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We have unlocked the potential of data in the DMTA cycle

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Tell us more about AstraZenca’s partnership with Nasscom.

AstraZeneca’s iDREAM initiative partnered with Nasscom IoT Centre of Excellence in November 2018 to accelerate innovative technologies that can provide affordable solutions for early screening and management of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The partnership, christened Unnati Healthcare Innovation Challenge, focuses on disease management, reduction of healthcare costs and early- and remote screening of diseases by providing expertise and funds. Unnati is based on the India Sweden Joint Declaration on Innovation Partnership for Sustainable Future.

How can this partnership drive scientific innovation in domestic market and promote quality manufacturing?

The partnership aims to strengthen India’s position in the global ecosystem of scientific innovation. AstraZeneca will support Nasscom in incubating tech start-ups in the healthcare sector, enabling collaboration across R&D, technology, government and education. It also serves as a platform for best practice sharing.

How can AI, Machine Learning drive growth for AstraZeneca?

Today, data powers the efforts to discover new treatments. AstraZeneca has leveraged Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to translate several decades’ worth of research data spanning molecules, trials and drug launches into computable format. We use advanced AI in the area of genomics and chemoinformatics, to unlock the potential of data predominantly in the DMTA (Design-Make-Test-Analyse) cycle. This can be considered as a great example in early science is within modelling and simulation where computational power is used to guide the design of preclinical and clinical experiments leading to improved R&D success. Another example is Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), where a large amount of data (>petabytes) is being analysed to create novel insights and identify potential targets. The rich data, deep research experience and well developed understanding of the patient – spanning several decades will be a major advantage for us.

Tell us more about the company’s Global Technology Centre (GTC) in Chennai. How is the centre adding significant value to your business through an end-to-end, integrated IT service delivery model?

As AstraZeneca’s Global Inhouse Center (GIC), the Global Technology Center’s objective is to move up the value chain and become a strategic entity driving innovation. We started as a technology center but have since grown to become the engine for our digital journey and a major source of technological innovation. With over 2400 employees onboard, GTC now provides 24x7x365 operations support globally that spans over 100 IT service lines. Over 1700 applications are supported through 72,000 devices. We’re committed to doing more with less to use IT efficiently and level up to participate in AstraZeneca’s vision for 2025.

What will be the focus areas of AstraZeneca in technology space and how do you plan to execute?

Today, data powers the efforts to discover new treatments. AstraZeneca uses AI in research, trials and drug launches. Information available in various forms is translated into computable format. AI is used to unlock the data that resides in Omics. Genomics and Chemoinformatics: We have unlocked the potential of data in the DMTA (Design-Make-Test-Analyse) cycle.
Modelling & Simulation: Computational power is used to guide the design of preclinical and clinical experiments leading to improved R&D success.
Next Generation Sequencing (NGS): A large amount of data (>petabytes) is being analysed to create novel insights and identify potential targets.

Pharma companies are focussed to scale up IT-enabled systems. How will this move help the industry in the long run?

2019 is the year of pharma 4.0 and India is riding the digitisation wave in pharma and healthcare currently. Disruptive changes in business models such as value-based pricing will impact the markets. Increased accessibility to the medical system through the expansion of healthcare networks and leverage of technology – doctors truly without borders who are available just a mouse click away. Diagnostics has more of a patient-centric approach. These shifting trends have made the industry rethink their value chain to make it more patient-centric at every stage. Data, AI, ML and wearables are all being looked at as opportunities to get closer to understanding the patient’s journey. At the same time, from a manufacturing standpoint, digital solutions will become the new game changer to enable scale, accuracy and quicker turnaround.

On one hand, huge amount is being invested in AI while on the other we are talking about making the sector more accessible and affordable.

Innovation in healthcare through AI will result in creation of low-cost devices that are affordable and accessible to people across geographies. From telemedicine to wearable devices and IoT moving industry to the factory of future status, the impact of technology will be felt in myriad ways that map the patient experience real time to the research process. The investments in innovation are more than justified considering the value tech in pharma is able to add to the nascent digital healthcare ecosystem.

Tell us more about the impact of digitalisation in the life science sector.

Technology has created a shift from reactive healthcare to patient-centric wellness that traverses the patient experience journey, from personalized medicine to lifestyle modification assistance in the future. Conventional life sciences companies have worked in silos that has led to delayed delivery to the end user. Digitisation has created seamless integration of different functions under a common business model to that works from drug to patient holistically.

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