Ask life sciences industry leaders and experts about blockchain and you will hear it called everything from “a game changer” to “a major disrupter.” According to the hype, the technology behind cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, is going to completely transform day-to-day operations for life sciences companies.
“You don’t have time to invest in basic research and wait 10 years. You have to go find individuals and companies doing exciting research, engage them, and progress those new technologies through collaborations and funding,” explains Takeda’s Vincent Ling.
Automation’s advances and widespread integration into the scientific workflow can reduce drug R&D time from the usual 15 years to five, according to a study released by Frost & Sullivan. “Robotics already is meeting most relevant needs in drug discovery. Its impact in the coming few years will be remarkable,” says Cecilia Van Cauwenberghe, associate fellow and industry analyst, TechVision at Frost & Sullivan. “Robotics will make pharmaceutical processes significantly more costand time-effective and allow precise, real-time documentation of every task. That, in turn, contributes to process optimization.”
The number of precompetitive collaborations among pharmaceutical companies increased nine-fold between 2005 and 2014 when compared against the 1995 to 2005 period. Meanwhile, traditional partnerships merely doubled, according to “Partnering for Progress: How Collaborations are Fueling Biomedical Advances,” a new study by Deloitte and PhRMA.
Why is this company’s strategy paying off despite several small-cap biotechs and large-cap vaccine players having seemingly abandoned their programs?
In 2013, TransPoC, Inc. (Translational Proof of Concept) was formed to solve a serious problem: the diminishing number of new drug therapies resulting from oncology research. This problem has become more challenging given the overwhelming volume of genomic data available since the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003.
Years ago I was asked to enroll my daughter in medical research. As I recall, the University of Buffalo physician approached me shortly before my child was to undergo a procedure. They were hoping to take a few additional tissue samples that wouldn’t lengthen the procedure nor harm my daughter. I said no to this request.
Competition in the pharmaceutical industry isn’t just about which manufacturer discovers the next blockbuster pill. National governments and entire geographical regions compete fiercely to attract pharma companies and the billions of dollars that come with their high-value investments. The United Kingdom is the latest country to try and step up its game.
The chairman of Bristol-Myers summoned the head of R&D into his office. “Bill, go down and check out the ruckus on the street,” he said. “Something about our new AIDS drug.” When Dr. William Comer exited the front door of the company’s New York City headquarters, he saw a small group of men marching around on the sidewalk, holding signs, blowing trumpets, beating drums, and chanting loudly.
In 2001, members of a small biotech from the New York City area traveled to the state capital, Albany, to discuss accessing the state’s new Biotechnology Industry Growth Fund. An economic development official responsible for a portion of that fund met with them but came away skeptical.