What are your predictions for hot topics for 2022? Urgency of tackling antimicrobial resistance, quantum computing to optimise supply chains, commercial space travel to improve health in extreme environments and use of AI in drug discovery, are the themes identified by innovation experts at the Pistoia Alliance, not-for-profit members’ organization working to lower barriers to innovation in life science and healthcare R&D.
“There will be renewed focus on the fight against super bugs and antimicrobial resistance (AMR),” predicts Linda Kasim, Empowering the Patient theme lead, Pistoia Alliance: “ This will be primarily driven by public-private partnerships, funding from philanthropic organisations, governments and international bodies to incentivise research.
She warns that the public sector must quickly increase investment into AMR research, or “the cost to national economies and public health could be devastating”.
She sees potential in advances from cross-discipline collaborations, such as, genomic profiling, advanced diagnostics, and personalised medicine to come together to tackle immune system disorders and neurodegenerative diseases. She says: “Digital health platforms must also become more integrated and to offer harmonized data generation. For these breakthroughs to happen, regulatory authorities must catch-up with the pace of research and innovation in health systems in 2022 by updating legal frameworks.”
Increased use of quantum computing in supply chains
“Big promises have been made during COP26, by large organisations, including pharma companies, about implementing net zero strategies and quantum algorithms could be applied to material sciences to reduce and replace wasteful processes,” predicts Imran Haq, Emerging Science and Technology theme lead, Pistoia Alliance.
“Deal making in the quantum space will continue to grow at pace in 2022, driven by macro geopolitical trends and Big Tech. The buzz around the sector will match this, and it will be the year we finally see this begin to translate into early versions of applications and use cases in the pharma industry.”
One of the use cases that Imran identifies is improving supply chain efficiency and he explains that this is an area that he would like to explore with the Pistoia Alliance’s Quantum Computing Community of Interest.
He continues: “Pharma is also going to play an increasingly critical role in space exploration. As plans to launch a commercial space station from companies like Blue Origin accelerate, pharma will be engaged to ensure humans are healthy and have access to healthcare in extreme environments.”
Automating drug discovery
AI and robotics offer opportunities for enabling a more automated drug discovery process. Anca Ciobanu, lead for Pistoria Alliance’s, Improving the Efficiency and Effectiveness of R&D theme, says that efficiency in R&D is on an exponential growth path. “In 2022, the major tech players will increase their focus on the life sciences and will play an important role in developing new products and initiatives. The application of new technologies will not only empower scientists to conduct experiments more efficiently, but it will also help them make more breakthrough discoveries.
“As companies continue to invest resources in launching or improving their autonomous labs, researchers will need up-skilling in data science, to be able to program and interact with the machines.”
More about the Pistoia Alliance
The Pistoia Alliance has more than 150 member companies including major life science companies, technology and service providers, academic groups, publishers, and patient research groups. Members collaborate as equals on projects that generate value for the worldwide life sciences and healthcare ecosystem. https://www.pistoiaalliance.org/category/projects/.