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Biopharma Insights


The Growth Imperative: Why The Next Big Pharma Competitor Could Be Google Or Apple

   by Jacob LaPorte    240
The Growth Imperative: Why The Next Big Pharma Competitor Could Be Google Or Apple

In a seminal work published by McKinsey & Company – The Granularity of Growth, a detailed study of the performance of the 100 largest US corporations over the two most recent business cycles – a key finding emerged: top-line growth is vital for survival.

To dig a bit deeper, the study found that a company whose revenue increased slower than the growth of U.S. GDP was five times more likely to falter in the next cycle than a company that expanded more rapidly. Companies have a “Growth Imperative,” which is to either “grow or go,” the authors concluded; in other words, companies must grow faster than their peers or else be left behind.

[Interview] The Rise of Quantum Physics in Drug Discovery

   by Andrii Buvailo    411
[Interview] The Rise of Quantum Physics in Drug Discovery

Computer-aided drug design (CADD) is a central part of so-called “rational drug design”, pioneered in the last century by companies like Vertex. Over the last decades, CADD had great influence on the way new therapeutics are discovered, however, it also showed limitations due to modest accuracy of computational tools.  

The majority of software tools used for computational chemistry and biology rely on molecular mechanics -- a simplified representation of molecules, essentially reducing them down to “balls and sticks”: atoms and bonds between them. In this way it is easier to compute, but accuracy suffers greatly.

In order to gain adequate accuracy, one has to account for the electronic behavior of atoms and molecules, i.e. consider subatomic particles -- electrons and protons. This is what quantum mechanical (QM) methods are all about -- and the theory is not new, dating back to the early decades of the 20th century.  

Toronto AI Startups Aim High in Drug Discovery Space

   by Andrii Buvailo    1214
Toronto AI Startups Aim High in Drug Discovery Space

According to a report by the Advisory Council on Artificial Intelligence of Canada, this country is home to more than eight hundred artificial intelligence (AI) companies, and the number of AI startups is growing by about 28% each year.

This is due to quite favorable conditions, that Canada offers to local and foreign AI-focused talent and organizations. Not only the country is a strong global leader in artificial intelligence research, with some of the most cited academics working here (Yoshua Bengio and Geoffrey Hinton -- pioneers of modern AI), but also the government is quite active in pushing Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy, aiming at supporting AI research and talent attraction and retention in Canada.

Antibiotic Research and Development - Public vs. Private Funding

   by David Shlaes    319
Antibiotic Research and Development - Public vs. Private Funding

Over the past decade, pull incentives as a solution to the broken antibiotic market have been proposed to entice companies into antibiotic research and development.  These incentives would essentially provide a market, and therefore a return on investment for pharmaceutical companies. Almost all of today’s inadequate antibiotic pipeline is provided by biotech and small pharma.  All are threatened with loss of investor interest because of the failed marketplace and many are experiencing difficulty in raising funds either from public or private markets.  One alternative to providing money to the “evil” pharmaceutical industry via a substantial pull incentive is to create publicly funded non-profit organizations or public-private ventures that would essentially replace the industry in antibiotic research, development and commercialization. Two proponents of this approach are Lord Jim O’Neill (of the O’Neill Commission or Antimicrobial Resistance Review fame) and Ramanan Laxminarayan of the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy and of GARDP. Both, clearly, are key thought leaders in the area. 

Big Investments for Human Microbiome Research

   by Tim Sandle    1421
Big Investments for Human Microbiome Research

Major companies on the scene include Second Genome, Enterome, and EpiBiome. In addition, several new startups have entered the field. Amongst the most active investors, Global Engage reports, are Seventure Partners, Flagship Pioneering and BioGaia. In fact there are some 120 companies investing in analyzing data relating to the human microbiome. To take one example, companies such as uBiome are developing genomic tests meant to identify and diagnose harmful microbes in the body.