Advanced computing in pharmaceutical R&D
The Alcimed Healthcare team has been exploring the opportunities offered by the digitalization of R&D activities in the pharmaceutical industry for many years. Today, the challenges linked to advanced computing in R&D, and to quantum computing in R&D in particular, are all new themes to explore. Our teams are positioned to help our clients anticipate upheavals and changes in their activities.
Challenges related to advanced computing in pharmaceutical research and development
What is advanced computing in R&D and what is quantum computing in R&D?
Advanced computing in R&D is a generic term which refers to the exploitation of the advanced computing powers of specific types of high-end computers and the processes they carry out for research and development activities, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.
Quantum computing in R&D is the use of quantum computing in research and development activities, particularly in pharmaceutical R&D. Quantum computing uses quantum systems called “qubits” which can have non-binary values, unlike classical computing which only uses bits with values of 0 or 1. Qubits can overlap on each other and act as a group. The result produces much more power than that of conventional computers, and speeds up decision-making and calculations by taking into account several options simultaneously rather than considering them one by one. Quantum computing could therefore solve calculations in seconds, whereas conventional computers would take several years or even decades. For example, quantum computers can study very complex systems such as the human biological system and its reactions to drugs.
What are the challenges related to advanced computing in R&D?
Advanced computing in R&D is already a reality in the pharmaceutical industry where computer tools are key elements used for the discovery and development of new drugs, whether in silico modeling of molecular structures, modeling interactions between a drug and its target, metabolism simulations, response prediction, etc. Nevertheless, these models are still limited to molecular structures or relatively simple interactions.
Quantum computing in R&D, on the other hand, goes one step further. Several industries are due to benefit from advances in quantum computing in the coming years, with the pharmaceutical industry likely to reap the greatest impact. The technology is expected to transform the early stages of pharmaceutical research and development in the coming decades, depending on how companies make the most of it. The technology is still emerging and is gradually reaching a state of maturity before being commercialized.
Quantum computing will make it possible to address certain challenges in the pharmaceutical industry. It will also create new ones, particularly in the process of drug discovery and design.
The challenges of advanced computing technology in pharmaceutical research and development include:
What is the process to set up an advanced computing system in its R&D processes? What are the best practices of pharma players who have already tested these new methods?
What will be the first therapeutic areas to benefit from the acceleration of the drug discovery process enabled by quantum computing?
What new organization should I put in place within my company? Which new profiles should we recruit?
Will the arrival of quantum computing allow new players, outside the world of the pharmaceutical industry, to position themselves in the drug discovery market?
Advanced computing in R&D is already a reality in the pharmaceutical industry, and quantum computing appears to be very promising for pharmaceutical research and development. Although the technology is not yet fully mature, some pharmaceutical companies are already positioning themselves. For e.g., Biogen is working with quantum computing software company 1QBit as well as with Accenture Labs to develop an application for accelerating drug discovery. Boehringer Ingelheim is the first pharmaceutical company to have partnered in early 2021 with Google Quantum AI to develop applications for the simulation of molecular dynamics. Roche is working with Cambridge Quantum Computing, a quantum software company, to design R&D algorithms, particularly for research into Alzheimer’s disease. BMS made a prepayment of USD 50 million to Exscientia to extend the collaboration started in 2019 with Celgene aimed to accelerate the discovery of drug candidates in 7 therapeutic areas, in a deal that could ultimately generate up to USD 1.2 billion.
How do we support you in your projects related to advanced computing or quantum computing in pharmaceutical R&D?
Supporting technological innovation for more than 25 years, Alcimed supports its clients on the themes of advanced computing in R&D as well as quantum computing in R&D. We are already supporting several players in the pharmaceutical industry in their R&D digitalization issues using such computing tools and in silico experiments.
The types of projects we carry out for our clients in this field are:
EXAMPLES OF RECENT PROJECTS CARRIED OUT FOR OUR CLIENTS IN THE FIELD OF ADVANCED COMPUTING IN R&D
In order to support our client in achieving this objective, our teams have mapped out in-silico players, offering pharmaceutical applications. Through an exhaustive bibliographic search and in-depth interviews with several opinion leaders in the sector, our teams were able to identify the main trends in the sector, the most promising applications and approaches, as well as obtain a precise vision of the main players active on the subject. The market dynamics of the next 3 years were also studied, as well as the different technologies meeting our client's criteria.
Finally, the players in the sector identified were described on the basis of the technologies and offers proposed, the quality of their proofs of concept, their applications, their business models and their already existing partnerships.
To do so, we carried out a state of the art of AI in R&D in the world, presenting the field of possibilities illustrated by concrete cases of competitors. Following this initial work, we supported our client in the integration of artificial intelligence technologies int its R&D activities, and helped it launch first internal pilot projects.
After defining very precisely the constraints and the latitude zones, we carried out two stages of screening and profiling of candidate companies, before carrying out directly with them and their ecosystems an in-depth analysis in order to define the most relevant partnerships, their advantages and disadvantages. Finally, we supported our client in the convergence towards a final selection of partners to be engaged during a workshop. Not only were these partnerships materialized, but our client asked us to reproduce a similar approach in other areas of Advanced Computing skills!
This company had developed an innovative neural network technology and a calculation preparation methodology allowing a very significant increase in processing power (computing) as well as an intelligent parallelization of the analyzes. It was initially positioned in the fields of Physics and sought to open a new development path towards Health. We helped them first identify and segment, in the Healthcare industries, the applications relevant to their approach. Then, through a field investigation and a multi-criteria analysis, we selected priority areas. Finally, we helped them, in the fields of application selected, understand the profiles of the companies and functions to be approached as well as define for each field the value proposition that would echo the concrete needs identified with them.
Our purpose? Helping both private and public decision-makers explore and develop their uncharted territories: new technologies, new offers, new geographies, possible futures, and new ways to innovate.
Located across eight offices around the world (France, Europe, Singapore and the United States), our team is made up of 220 highly-qualified, multicultural and passionate explorers, with a blended science/technology and business culture.
Our dream? To build a team of 1,000 explorers, to design tomorrow's world hand in hand with our clients.
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