AI and ML is changing the game of drug discovery, Health News, ET HealthWorld


Sibaji Biswas, Chief Financial Officer, Syngene International Limited in an interaction with ETHealthworld’s Rashmi Mabiyan Kaur shares his outlook for the year 2024 and how Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue to play an important role in the company’s functioning. He further elucidated that integrating AI and machine learning (ML) in pharmaceutical processes is a trend with transformative potential. Edited excerpts:

How have advancements in AI, IoT, big data analytics changed the company’s working in the year 2023?
The year 2023 marked a turning point for Syngene driven by innovative advancements in AI, IoT, and big data analytics. The impact of digitization and deployment of AI solutions was immediately felt in various enabling aspects of the business and now is being increasingly felt in the drug discovery process. Traditionally, drug discovery has been an arduous process, taking up to 10 years and incurring costs exceeding billions of dollars. The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven methodologies has the potential to revolutionise this paradigm, introducing speed, minimizing late-stage failures, improving efficiencies, and cost-effectiveness.

What are the challenges that AI addresses in drug discovery?
AI’s role in drug discovery addresses many inherent challenges, such as prediction of the efficacy and toxicity of potential drug compounds. By leveraging Big Data, encompassing biological and chemical information, AI algorithms facilitate the rapid identification of promising drug targets and candidates. This approach expedites the confirmation of drug targets and enhances the overall design and properties of drug compounds. The AI algorithms support identifying drug candidates with specific and desired properties, thereby minimizing the necessity for extensive laboratory testing. The result is a more streamlined and efficient drug discovery process that significantly reduces the time and resources traditionally associated with this critical phase in pharmaceutical development.What are the trends you are excited about in 2024 how will they impact the company’s functioning?
In the upcoming year, several trends are poised to shape the pharmaceutical industry landscape, and we are optimistic about the opportunities they present for Syngene.

Firstly, the continued growth of India as a preferred destination for pharmaceutical manufacturing and research is a trend we eagerly anticipate. The momentum gained in 2023, with global pharmaceutical giants actively exploring supply chain options in India, is expected to evolve into concrete partnerships and collaborations in 2024.

As a key player in the Indian contract research and manufacturing landscape, we stands to benefit from this trend. Our commitment to expansion plans, especially in Hyderabad, aligns with the industry’s increasing reliance on India’s capabilities. This expected growth driven by large clients and a return to normal for the global biotech is a positive indicator for the company’s future prospects in the medium to the long term.

The emphasis on biologics in the manufacturing space is another trend we are closely watching. With an increasing number of molecules gaining attention globally, Syngene’s success in the biologics sector positions us favourably to capitalize on this sustained momentum. As the industry pivots towards innovative and complex therapies, our expertise in biologics puts us in a strategic position to meet the evolving demands of pharmaceutical development and manufacturing.

Furthermore, this integration is expected to streamline operations, reduce response times, and enhance the overall quality of our services.

What have been the key attractions for investors?
The small molecule development and manufacturing space has been a key attraction in the recent times as investors see India emerging as an alternative supply source for the global pharma for sourcing API and intermediates. However, challenges remain and overcoming these challenges demand a strategic and multifaceted approach, encompassing not only the expansion of production capacity with globally accepted quality standards, but also creating a supportive eco-system, achieving scale, development of depth in specific chemistry areas and an ability to drive continuous process optimization.

How is Syngene leveraging AI tools to make the companies operating model future ready?
Syngene has developed specialized AI tools like Syn.AITM for AI-driven drug discovery and SarchitectTM for Quantitative Structure-Activity Relationship (QSAR) modelling for predicting biological activities and liabilities associated with new chemical entities and optimizing them. These tools are finely tuned for the intricate and specific demands of drug discovery, distinguishing them from generic options available in open-source platforms.

At an enterprise level, AI is enhancing efficiency and quality. Generative AI is now able to draft contracts, respond to RFPs (Request for Proposal) and write reports with a higher level of precision and with benchmarked quality. Currently, these solutions are piloted at Syngene and would soon become the mainstay of the operating model. Machine Learning capabilities would learn and continuously improve institutional capability to draft legal documents, plan procurement more accurately and improve technical writing. Deployment of organization wide IOT is in the process of improving safety and maintenance monitoring across the 2mnsq ft of campus through thousands of sensors deployed at vantage points, removing the need to manually monitor these places.

Digital asset management platform of Syngene is helping with asset commissioning, maintenance scheduling and in predicting spare parts inventory requirements. It is an overall wave of digital transformation that in underway to make Syngene’s operating model future fit and customer centric.

  • Published On Jan 11, 2024 at 03:23 PM IST

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