Top 7 Trends In Pharmaceutical Research In 2018

by Andrii Buvailo, PhD          Biopharma insight / Biopharma Insights

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Being under ever-increasing pressure to compete in a challenging economic and technological environment, pharmaceutical and biotech companies must continually innovate in their R&D programmes to stay ahead of the game.

External innovations come in different forms and originate in different places -- from university labs, to privately held venture capital-backed startups and contract research organizations (CROs). Let’s get to reviewing some of the most influential research trends which will be “hot” in 2018 and beyond, and summarize some of the key players driving innovations.

Last year BioPharmaTrend summarized several important trends affecting biopharmaceutical industry, namely: an advancement of various aspects of gene editing technologies (mainly, CRISPR/Cas9); a fascinating growth in the area of immuno-oncology (CAR-T cells); an increasing focus on microbiome research; a deepening interest in precision medicine; some important advances in antibiotics discovery; a growing excitement about artificial intelligence (AI) for drug discovery/development; a controversial but rapid growth in the area of medical cannabis; and continuous focus of pharma on engaging in R&D outsourcing models to access innovations and expertise.       

Below is a continuation of this review with several more active areas of research added to the list, and some extended commentaries on the trends outlined above -- where relevant.

RELATED: "Hot" Research Areas in Drug Discovery - 2019


1. Adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by pharma and biotech

With all the hype around AI nowadays, it is hard to surprise anybody with this trend in pharmaceutical research. However, it should be noted that AI-driven companies really start getting traction with big pharma and other leading life science players, with lots of research partnerships and collaborative programs -- here is a list of key deals so far, and here is a brief review of some notable activity in the “AI for drug discovery” space over the last several months.

A potential of AI-based tools is now explored at all stages of drug discovery and development -- from research data mining and assisting in target identification and validation, to helping come up with novel lead compounds and drug candidates, and predicting their properties and risks. And finally, AI-based software is now able to assist in planning chemical synthesis to obtain compounds of interest. AI is also applied to planning pre-clinical and clinical trials and analyzing biomedical and clinical data.  

Beyond target-based drug discovery, AI is applied in other research areas, for instance, in phenotypic drug discovery programs -- analyzing data from high content screening methods.

With a major focus of AI-driven startups on small molecule drug discovery, there is also an interest in applying such technologies for biologics discovery and development.

RELATED: The Overview of AI in Drug Discovery in 2019: The “Proof-of-concept Year”


2. Expanding chemical space for drug discovery explorations

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  • Bhaskar Chakravorti 2018-05-29 09:06

    Please keep me in your mailing list for such interesting updates

  • Kit Hannigan 2018-08-24 04:15

    It sure is nice to know how researchers are now exploring how AI-based tools can help speed up drug discovery and development. If I were to manage a pharmaceutical company, I'll definitely consider investing in AI research to help us come up with new innovations that would benefit the industry and the consumers in the long run. Thanks for a really informative piece about the top trends in pharmaceutical development!

    • BiopharmaTrend 2018-12-13 12:14

      Thank you for your commentary, Kit Hannigan, the AI is indeed a promising technology for the drug discovery. However, there is a long way from innovation to implementation, let's see how it goes

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    • BiopharmaTrend 2018-12-13 12:12

      Thank you for your interest, please, do feel free to subscribe here:

  • Nigar Fatima 2018-11-15 02:35

    It’s great content and would love to read more

    • BiopharmaTrend 2018-12-13 12:11

      thank you for the feedback

  • Aanchal Iyer 2018-12-05 13:09

    AI combined with big data and analytics has a major role in research and development in the pharma industry. Most of the pharma companies use these data visualization techniques to stay ahead in today's competitive world and utilize these techniques. Thanks

  • Deepti 2019-01-03 05:45

    Nice post ;Ingress of AI in Pharma field can bring the revolution in future in Health sector and medicine

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  • Dr Barij N Sinha 2020-08-10 07:38

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  • onlinepharmacy56 2022-09-01 09:17

    Very informative. Thank you for taking time in writing this article.


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