Experts discuss the role of AI/ML in drug discovery and innovations at REPharma Summit 2024, ET HealthWorld

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By Devanshi Dewan & Rashmi Mabiyan

Mumbai: The transformative role that Artificial Intelligence has assumed over the recent past, has completely changed our understanding of the traditional and conventional models in place in the pharmaceutical industry. AI/ML is being increasingly used in early drug discovery for predictions on the adverse interactions of specific and adverse interactions from something as simple as a chemical structure, informed a panel of speakers at the 4th edition of the REPharma Summit.

The Summit witnessed an insightful panel discussion titled “Deploying AI/ML for Drug Discovery & Biotechnology Innovations” where experts brought to the fore the changes driven by AI/ML in the pharma industry.

The panel consisted of industry leaders who have seen the developments in the pharmaceutical industry up close. The panel included Dr Anil Kukreja, Vice President, Medical Affairs and Regulatory, AstraZeneca Pharma India Limited; Narendra Saini, Chief Digital & Data Officer, Lupin; Dr Shubhadeep Sinha, Senior Vice President, Head – Clinical Development & Medical Affairs (CD&MA), Hetero Labs Limited; Dr Baskar Viswanathan, Life Science – Business Consulting Officer Agilisium and the panel discussion was moderated by Dr Mukesh Kumar, Senior VP and Head Clinical R&D, Cipla.

Initiating the discussion, Dr Sinha said, “While the clinical trials are being conducted, predictions on the patient with recruitment, better patient recruitment, predictions on the possible adverse reactions that might happen and prediction or even on the sites that can be taken based on the data that is available.”

He emphasised that the growing prevalence and the existing significance of AI/ML in the drug discovery process and the huge capability that AI/ML has in accelerating the drug discovery process.

AI/ML has its role across the cycle. And thereby, it will grow further not that it may make you lose jobs, but it only will help enhance the and hasten the drug discovery process, Dr Sinha added.

Talking about the role of AI/ML across drug discovery and drug development, Dr Kukreja, stated, “We see the role of AI and ML across the lifecycle, right from drug discovery, drug development, and most importantly, also patient care. I think it’s very important to see the evolution which is happening. And particularly I feel, we are at a cusp of where India can leapfrog and transform the way we have done our journey in our digital payment interface.”

Affirming the expert views on patient centricity when it comes to employing AI/ML, Dr Kukreja added on the significance of an early diagnosis in preventing life-threatening diseases.

He stated, “Right from streamlining, as well as ensuring that we are able to identify the right patient profiles and the right sites for the clinical trials. In fact, taking the clinical, the AI and ML can help us to identify the right size, where the clinical trials can be run. Help the investigator identify the right patients for the clinical trials. Most importantly, accelerate the diagnosis.”

Talking about the huge potential that AI/ML has on the manufacturing and supply chain process in the pharmaceutical industry, Dr Kukreja further added, “It has the potential to transform the entire value system, particularly in the pharma and healthcare industry, I would say it’s phenomenal. I think it’s a huge potential.”

Talking about the challenges to the data privacy aspect of technology, especially in terms of deploying AI/ML technologies, Dr Viswanathan said, “A single leakage of the data can end up becoming a ransom of your million dollars to a vendor of millions of dollars. Privacy and security, the stability, and accuracy of the model is also equally important.”

Furthering the discussion on the employment of AI/ML technology in the diagnostics industry, Dr Kukreja said, these technologies can prove to be very helpful and patient-centric in the diagnostics sector.

He stated, “There is a possibility that this ECG can travel through cloud computing to AI trained technology, and you can get the diagnosis. And patients’ lives can be saved. There are use cases where we have deployed these technologies, where we have been able to save the patient’s life through hub and spoke model. There are a lot of use cases where we have seen that AI and ML have saved lives in our own healthcare ecosystems. Today, I’m happy to say that when we started working with them, they were working only with one or two states. And today, more and more states are integrating this technology in their healthcare ecosystem. I’m sure with all these transformative and future technologies, we will potentially give equitable care, more sustainable care, and of course, our healthcare systems will become more resilient and more patient centered.”

Saini, emphasising the quality parameters involved in AI/ML functions of drug discovery, said, “The amount of data that we have is a lot more than what we have in the discovery domain. The AI or ML model can only tell you as good as the data that you have. The gold standard that you will have to maintain, the better robustness of the product, the process with what you can do to get the best yield and the best quality at the same time. That is important in manufacturing processes and quality also. The new use cases that we’re seeing is to be able to look at process quality parameters and critical quality process parameters.”

Concluding the panel discussion, Dr Sinha talked about regulations on Gen AI and informed about the very versatile and efficacious nature of AI/ML technologies.

  • Published On Jan 23, 2024 at 07:19 PM IST

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