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Pharmaceutical industry trends


[Interview] The Rise of Quantum Physics in Drug Discovery

   by Andrii Buvailo    147
[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.  

Pharma Companies Join Forces to Train AI for Drug Discovery Using Blockchain

   by Andrii Buvailo    1213
Pharma Companies Join Forces to Train AI for Drug Discovery Using Blockchain

The newly organized research project “MELLODDY” (Machine Learning Ledger Orchestration for Drug Discovery), involving ten large pharma companies and seven technology providers, is that kind of deals which can catalyze a transition of the pharmaceutical industry to a new level -- a “paradigm shift”, as one might refer to it in terms of Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”.

The project aims at developing a state-of-the-art platform for collaboration, based on Owkin’s blockchain architecture technology, which would allow collective training of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms using data from multiple direct pharmaceutical competitors, without exposing their internal know-hows and compromising their intellectual property -- for the collective benefit of everyone involved. 

"Hot" Research Areas in Drug Discovery - 2019

   by Andrii Buvailo    1016
"Hot" Research Areas in Drug Discovery - 2019

Things like gene editing, stem cells, immunotherapies and new types of biologics are now mega-trends in the pharmaceutical industry, widely covered in media, and I guess there is little doubt that biology is the next big thing in medicine. However, in this post I would like to outline several hot areas in small molecule drug discovery, suggesting a lot of untapped potential and investment prospects in this more “traditional” pharmaceutical research space.

Big Investments for Human Microbiome Research

   by Tim Sandle    1058
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.

Confluence of Technologies Can Bring “Virtual Pharmacology” to the Next Level

   by Andrii Buvailo    1353
Confluence of Technologies Can Bring “Virtual Pharmacology” to the Next Level

In 1970-80s, the idea of virtual screening was regarded as a conceptual way to substitute costly and time-consuming experimental “screen-everything-you-have” approaches with a much faster and cheaper predictive modelling to cherry-pick only the best molecules for subsequent synthesis and validation in a lab. A great number of computational tools and approaches emerged, aiming at “pre-screening” new promising molecules, so called “hits”, or augmenting experimental screening programs to optimize efforts.