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An Overview of Emerging Technologies within the Pharmaceutical Industry

As technological innovations continue to support the expansion of the pharmaceutical sector, these technologies make healthcare more effective and efficient, improving patient and provider experiences.

An Overview of Emerging Technologies within the Pharmaceutical Industry
According to the hospital group, AI-assisted Colonoscopy Polyp Detection trials will help doctors to improve the quality of patient care, and improve the accuracy of detection rates by capturing information correctly and reducing errors. (File)

By Dr. Kanury Rao

Since the advent of digitalization, technology has had an impact on every element of human existence, from communication, transportation, manufacturing, and industry to medical and pharmaceutical firms.

The modern pharmaceutical industry along with the healthcare industry is undergoing a significant modification and quick change due to the advancement of numerous technologies. Among the critical pharma business trends are artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics, system biotechnology, and curative medicines. Increased investments, the expansion of technological startups, the expiration of multiple significant patents, increased interorganizational partnerships, and a favourable regulatory environment are all fueling pharmaceutical industry innovation. As a result, as technology breakthroughs and innovation continue to lead the way, the pharmaceutical industry is likely to see even faster development and transitions in order to fulfil expanding healthcare demands.

The pharmaceutical industry is witnessing a huge digital transformation in recent times. With the advancement of technology, pharma companies are also preparing and equipping themselves to bring digital transformations into their existing processes. Information technology standards for evolving operating procedures are a vital component of the pharmaceutical sector, with R&D and production strongly reliant on a technological framework. The advancement of digital technology takes into account the fact that information technology can supply its services to a vast audience worldwide in a personalized and efficient manner. Additionally, making the process less monotonous and repayable, as well as exact and consistent in terms of terminology, taxonomy, and mass customization. Developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, big data analytics and data science have completely changed the way in which the pharma industry works.

Emerging Technology: Reshaping the Industry

As technological innovations continue to support the expansion of the pharmaceutical sector, these technologies make healthcare more effective and efficient, improving patient and provider experiences. Here are a few examples of rising technologies that are influencing the industry:

Artificial Intelligence: Rising number of organizations, including pharmaceuticals, are utilizing artificial intelligence. AI aids the industry in speeding up drug discovery and manufacturing processes. Firms are continuing to investigate the application of these technologies to address numerous challenges in the pharmaceutical sector, such as automation, process optimization, and devising efficient post-launch plans and marketing. Patient identification is essential in medication discovery and development, mainly when performing clinical trials. As a result, the application of AI simplifies the identification of qualifying requirements and makes the process faster and less expensive.

Big Data Analytics: The pharmaceutical industry requires high-performance systems to analyze the massive amounts of data created during the drug discovery and development process. Many pharmaceutical firms rely on third-party vendors to share data with collaborators, making data management a critical priority. The growth of analytical tools is also transforming pharmaceutical businesses’ historical and real-time data into significant assets for predictive, diagnostic, prescriptive, and descriptive analytics. Furthermore, these analytics techniques are applied to nearly all sorts of medical data, including patient records, medical imaging, and hospital data, to name just a few.

Gene editing: Gene editing is crucial to pharmaceutical development. CRISPR-Cas9 promises to revolutionize the role gene editing plays in drug discovery and even therapeutics. First reported as a gene-editing tool, CRISPR/Cas9 is an innovative technology for cut-and-paste genetic manipulation that brings a razor-sharp molecular scalpel to the research lab. This revolutionary gene-editing technique involves using target-specific RNA to guide an endonuclease to a selected sequence to be edited. CRISPR simplifies the process of deleting, adding, or modifying genes in a user-friendly way. The method is scalable, which means that researchers can look at a large number of genes rapidly. The ability of CRISPR to modify the endogenous mutated gene offers massive advantages in terms of direct repair in contrast to current gene therapies that rely on, for example, augmentation with additional gene copies. CRISPR has gained enormous traction, and is being applied to speed up drug discovery. Matched with efficient high-throughput technology, CRISPR opens up the possibility for industrial-scale target screening. Although there are still concerns, the technology could become the turning point in the uphill battle to discover new druggable targets and even provide the means to treat them directly. CRISPR-based therapeutics represent a potential cure for various disease conditions and could therefore prolong life by decades. 

Curative Therapies: There is a paradigm change occurring in the treatment of illnesses, from disease management to disease cure. Remedial technologies, such as cell and gene therapies, are revolutionizing the way doctors treat chronic diseases and difficult-to-treat ailments by removing the need for long-term medications. Gene therapy is the introduction of genetic material into cells in order to compensate for defective genes or to produce a good protein. Gene therapies allow for correcting the typographical errors in the genome that cause diseases. Either cells are modified ex vivo in a laboratory or they are modified in vivo using vectors to carry the genes into the body. Gene therapy holds promise for treating a wide range of genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis and hemophilia and other diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and AIDS. Curative cell and gene therapies represent a key shift in patient care and will have considerable impact across the patient journey.

System Biotechnology: Over the last few decades, the industry has experienced a transition in biochemical science from wanting to understand how a single gene works to understanding how the multitude of genes and gene products in a cell interact. Systems biology is a new paradigm for understanding the interrelationships between networks of biological processes, and when applied to cell biology, it is concerned mainly with the network of genes. Consequently, this strategy is founded on a contemporary technical procedure that enables data to be evaluated on a much greater scale. Systems biology has altered the way biological and biotechnological research is conducted. Systems biological techniques can be applied to build bioprocesses for the production of valuable pharmaceuticals, commodity and fine chemicals, fuels, polymers, and other materials; this is dubbed systems biotechnology. As a result, establishing successful industrial biotechnology for growth is a possibility.

Bioprinting: Clinical testing is one of the most formidable tasks affecting the pharmaceutical business today. Pharmaceutical firms now evaluate a drug’s safety and efficacy on live individuals, but this is likely to change owing to bioprinting. Bioprinting, which uses procedures comparable to 3D printing, may manufacture human organs and tissue replicas. This method combines cells, growth factors, and other biomaterials to form a mesh-like structure. In clinical studies, these organs can be used to substitute living participants. The most exemplary element about this technology is that it creates tissues and bacteria that react to new treatments and therapies in the same way the human body does.

Blockchain: Blockchain technology is very significant for the pharmaceutical industry in every stage of the production and distribution of drugs. Blockchain can modernize the pharma industry as it introduces three important elements in the industry: privacy, transparency, and traceability. There are several potential uses of blockchain technology in the pharma industry: it can facilitate access to medical records for healthcare practitioners, patients, etc., enhance the supply chain, clinical trial data reporting, vendor credentialing, drug pricing strategy tracking etc. Blockchain technology is also being explored to tackle the use of counterfeit medicines and substandard drugs that enter into the pharmaceutical supply chain and kill thousands of patients every year. The digitalization of transactions makes blockchain a promising solution for tracking and securing the pharma transaction ecosystem.

As a result, the aforementioned emerging technologies enable the pharmaceutical industry to innovate and create a variety of platforms to advance healthcare.

Paving the way for the future!

The pandemic has served as a forewarning for every industry, including the pharmaceutical industry. Emerging technologies in the sector are transforming and reshaping every area, whether it’s operations, research, or healthcare innovation. In this scenario, many brands have integrated multidimensional approaches to develop innovative methodologies in the field of preventive healthcare and early-stage disease diagnostics. Moreover, the potential of emerging technologies such as AI, data analytics, bioprinting, system biotechnology and many more are being extensively utilized. As a result, with the introduction of novel technologies, pharmaceutical companies will undoubtedly receive the much-needed support to drive growth, begin new changes, and strive towards the improvement of public health through improved products and solutions. Perspectives on new technology are shifting from ‘in an ideal world we would’ to ‘we must have these to grow’.

(The author is a Co-founder and CSO, PredOmix. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)

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First published on: 06-12-2022 at 09:00:00 am