Contract Research Organizations Tap Into AI To Increase Value Proposition

by Andrii Buvailo, PhD          Biopharma insight / Biopharma Insights

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A few decades ago, pharmaceutical giants did most of the discovery work in-house, along with every other work necessary to get a drug or medical device to market. Nowadays, nearly any type of R&D or regulatory filing work that a drug maker or a medical-device producer needs to do -- from pre-clinical development to running clinical trials and go-to-market activities -- can be outsourced to CROs, and often it is the case.

According to a report by Kalorama Information, a market-research publisher in Rockville, Maryland, more than one-third of all global drug-discovery research will be outsourced to CROs by 2021.

In the wake of "the artificial intelligence (AI)-revolution" in the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries, CROs are tapping into various AI technologies to further cement their position in the global pharmaceutical R&D market -- in some instances competing for expertise and talent even with the leading drug makers.

Findings published by Deep Pharma Intelligence, a pharmaceutical industry think-tank in London, United Kingdom, in their report "AI for Drug Discovery, Biomarker Development and Advanced R&D Landscape Overview 2020" reveal that some of the leading CROs are actively adopting various artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, including machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL), and natural language processing (NLP) in their research workflows -- via building in-house platforms, or partnering with AI-vendors and AI-focused biotech startups. 

Since the overwhelming majority of CROs are involved in clinical-stage projects, most AI-involving projects are primarily dealing with such use cases as patient recruitment for clinical trials, clinical trial management and result modeling, and patient stratification. However, notable areas of AI application include early drug discovery, preclinical development, and pharmacovigilance.   

Let’s review some of the initiatives by leading CROs aimed at incorporating more value to their services via establishing AI-driven processes, and using the latest advances in big data analytics:


IQVIA is developing artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities to support customers with clinical trials and commercial activities. To improve clinical trials, IQVIA recently launched Avacare Clinical Research Network™, which allows sites to match patients for the trials faster and more efficiently. The platform is powered by AI algorithms and can operate across 19 disease areas. 

A year before, another IQVIA‘s Linguamatics Natural Language Processing (NLP) platform became a winner of the Questex’s 2019 Fierce Innovation Awards. The platform can have vast applications in healthcare and life sciences, including target identification, gene mapping, predicting patient outcomes, and so on.

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Topics: Industry Trends    Emerging Technologies   

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  • Kristofer Van Wagner 2021-04-15 00:39

    I appreciate that this post pointed out that when choosing a clinical research organization, it is important for us to ensure that they are reputable. The other day my friend mentioned that she would like to look for a clinical trial for breast cancer. I will advise her to get in touch with a reputable company to determine if she is eligible to sit in the trial.


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