Transforming drug development with AI

artificial intelligence
Image by Brian Penny from Pixabay

From streamlining clinical trials to evaluating drug repurposing possibilities for new patient populations and addressing critical supply chain challenges, 2024 will be the year artificial intelligence embeds itself into the fabric of drug development. The result is a substantial reduction in both time and cost, ensuring that life-saving pharmaceuticals swiftly navigate the complex pipeline and reach patients with expediency.

One area where AI’s impact is already on display is within the clinical trial process, where its use continues to supercharge the analysis of vast and complicated datasets, significantly reducing the time and cost and ensuring life-saving drugs reach patients as quickly as possible. Looking ahead, 2024 stands as the harbinger of a new era, where artificial intelligence not only streamlines existing processes, but also paves the way for novel methodologies in drug development. The dynamic interplay between AI and pharmaceutical endeavours is set to redefine standards, ultimately fostering a landscape where the convergence of innovation and efficiency becomes the hallmark of progress in the quest for improved healthcare solutions.

Repurposing FDA-approved drugs

AI excels at data mining extensive medical and research data to find novel connections between drugs and diseases and will supercharge the identification of new patient populations for existing FDA-approved drugs, reducing risks and uncertainties inherent in novel drug creation. By maximising the utility of current pharmaceuticals, new treatment avenues will open, and new patient populations will be unlocked for existing drugs, not only optimising the utility of current pharmaceuticals, but also unveiling novel treatment avenues, particularly for rare or underserved conditions.

A big standout this year will be Every Cure, whose sole focus as a non-profit is using AI to find new diseases that can be treated by FDA-approved drugs. Their unwavering focus marks them as a standout entity in the year 2024, symbolising the intersection of technological innovation and humanitarian commitment in the pursuit of expanding healthcare solutions. In essence, the synergy between AI and drug repurposing not only augurs well for optimising existing pharmaceutical resources, but also holds the promise of addressing medical needs in rare or underserved conditions

Alleviating supply chain issues

As geopolitical tensions and global weather events continue to loom large over the pharmaceutical supply chains, generative AI's prowess in scenario modelling will become an indispensable tool in creating robust contingency plans, mitigating risks, and fortifying supply chains against potential disruptions. The use of AI in supply chain modelling has the ability to ensure things like uninterrupted access to essential medications amid potential disruptions and generating localised production strategies, ensuring drug developers can adapt seamlessly to the benefit of individuals who rely on these medications.

This strategic use of AI not only safeguards the pharmaceutical supply chains, but also empowers drug developers to adapt swiftly, ultimately benefitting individuals who depend on these life-saving medications. A case in point is the notable example of Novo Nordisk, which has been managing rapid scaling of its supply chain due to increasing demand for its blockbuster drugs Ozempic and Wegovy, and we expect them to continue advancement in this area.

Streamlining regulatory compliance with AI

Navigating the complex regulatory landscape has always been a challenge and, sometimes, a barrier to entry within the pharmaceutical industry. This year, expect to see AI used more often as a critical asset in anticipating and addressing these regulatory challenges. AI's ability to automate compliance monitoring ensures steadfast adherence to evolving global compliance standards, leapfrogging traditional approaches and forecasting regulatory approval outcomes. This foresight empowers companies to strategise proactively, surmounting potential regulatory hurdles before they even arise. We also expect Novo Nordisk to be a frontrunner in this space as they reinvest resources into AI applications for regulatory compliance.

Significant increase in Big Pharma M&A as biotech rebounds

With recent announcements such as Johnson & Johnson purchasing Ambrx and Merck acquiring Harpoon Therapeutics at JPM, we are already seeing how 2024 will drive a surge in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) buoyed by AI's strategic interventions. Generative AI, our beacon in navigating the vast amount of data, shall chart the course for optimal M&A targets. The technology's adeptness in analysing expansive datasets will unveil biotech companies aligned with Big Pharma's strategic goals, emphasising innovation and technological compatibility. Furthermore, AI-powered due diligence will become a cornerstone for evaluating potential targets.

Beyond AI's influence, the anticipated surge in Big Pharma's M&A activities echoes the industry's pivot towards integrated collaborations focusing on innovative therapies. This trend underscores the significance of collective strides shaping the pharmaceutical landscape, propelling it towards innovation-led growth.

Collaboration is key

The accelerated adoption of generative AI in drug discovery and development holds the promise of expediting research processes, facilitating rapid drug market entries, and fostering revolutionary advancements in clinical trials. Amidst these innovations, collaborative efforts between tech experts, healthcare professionals, and policymakers become imperative. Together, harnessing the power of AI holds the potential to sculpt a more efficient, effective, and patient-centric pharmaceutical landscape.

Image by Brian Penny from Pixabay

Dave Latshaw II
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Dave Latshaw II
14 February, 2024