In 1982, the U.S. approved human insulin—the first ever recombinant biopharmaceutical drug. Since then, biopharma development has proceeded at an exponential pace, with new innovations redefining, over and over again, the possibilities of medicine.
Going forward, biopharma will demand more efficient processes, higher quality products, and ways to contain costs. These improvements will be largely delivered by the same technologies that are redefining most industries: big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robots, Internet of Things (IoT), and other Industry 4.0 tools.
In this article, you can explore what’s coming next.
Technological advances are providing scientists with more ability to combine and analyze information about the human genome. It is now possible to detect illness faster, identify a person’s risk of contracting a specific disease, and choose powerful interventions to help an individual boost their health.
Genomic data initiatives all over the world are working to collect more information about the complex relationships between genes and diseases. In the U.K., the 100,000 Genomes Project recently finished collecting data from patients with rare diseases and cancers. The project produced a huge amount of actionable information that will be used for future treatments.
Leading companies like BioNTech are already harnessing this kind of data to develop transformative treatments like individualized cancer medicine. But rapid progress in the development of new biotechnology means that personalized medicine could soon become an industry-wide standard.
These shifts will transcend the laboratory. Over the next decade, it is expected that people will drastically increase their usage of wearable devices and apps that allow for real-time tracking of their health. This will provide healthcare providers with the real-time, day-to-day information that they need to select and design treatments that they can precisely target towards specific bodied.
Advanced Analytics and Machine Learning
Companies across most industries are reaping the benefits of analytics insights, but biopharma has been lagging behind.
This is largely thanks to a massive data problem. There are many sources of medical data—like health records, clinical trials, personal devices, and even social media. The process of storing, managing, securing, and accessing it all is complex.
But emerging software solutions for data processing, natural language processing (NLP), and dashboarding are helping to bridge this gap. Soon enough, the logistical concerns will be surmounted and data-driven tools like advanced analytics will be applicable on a wider scale.
This will unlock all sorts of capabilities. Drug discovery timelines will shorten drastically, patients who fit extremely specific clinical trial criteria will be much easier to find, and doctors will be able to view a virtual version of their patient’s bodies—and accurately predict all kinds of things, such as patient-specific risk of bone fracture.
Outsourced Research and Development
The complexity of biopharmaceutical drugs—along with the demands on their makers—are increasing. Many companies are beginning to outsource parts of the process that requires special capabilities, resources, and skills, or increased capacities.
Biopharmaceutical organizations are extending their search parameters to find partners who have experience with specific disease states, tumor types, and proteins. This is allowing them to accelerate development and make rapid breakthroughs that might otherwise have taken years.
Similarly, advances in fragment-based drug discovery (FBDD) are providing an easier way for companies to generate clearer, more significant drug leads faster—which is driving a rising demand for expert-driven FBDD, bolstering this increased hit rate with the ideal strategy and analysis.
While much is uncertain, one fact is clear: we are approaching a turning point for biopharmaceutical research. There are numerous tools that are close to being unlocked for use across the whole sector, which will revolutionize an already cutting-edge discipline.
There will be disruption, and companies will have to adopt many new technologies, processes, and working practices, but the resulting opportunities will have genuine potential to change the world as we know it.
Increased speed—in research, development, production, and treatment—is the top priority for today’s organizations. More efficient processes will help companies limit operational costs and provide more frequent breakthroughs to build upon.
If biopharma continues to move at this ever-increasing pace, the next era will be here in no time.