5 Reasons Why Biotech Must Embrace Artificial Intelligence & Blockchain in 2019

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The biotech industry, which predominantly supports the medical and pharmaceutical industries, has experienced a rise in the amount of innovative technology available to CIOs and CTOs in recent years.

This provides leaders with many more opportunities when deciding what is best for their industry generally and for the specific organization with which they are working.

Having such a wide array of different technologies at your fingertips allows you to make crucial decisions about what might revolutionize your industry as a whole.

If implemented correctly, the company where you work could skyrocket in popularity, and become known as a frontrunner who isn’t afraid to make intelligent changes where it matters.

As a CIO or CTO, however, you will probably be aware that balancing innovative technology with the reputation of the biotech industry isn’t an easy task.

The opioid crisis that started in the 1990’s continues to damage the reputation of the biotech industry, and has been accompanied by an across the board call to reduce the overprescription of drugs, instilling extra caution for those making decisions that could affect the industry.

This concern leads many executives to wariness about being the one to make the first move when it comes to revolutionizing the industry. Far too many will remain on the fence until new technologies have been tested elsewhere and approved, by the biotechnology industry as a whole.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with that because it shelters companies from undue risk. However, too much caution could do yourself, and any company with which you work, a complete disservice.

Blockchain and artificial intelligence are two parts of the biotech industry that seem to cause the most hesitation.

Often associated with digitized technology companies, smart robots, or the online transaction software for bitcoin, many people struggle to see the positive impact these areas can have on the biotech industry.

The truth is, artificial intelligence and blockchain technology are continuously improving.

In recent years, curiosity has prompted many industries to open their eyes to the possible wisdom of accepting artificial intelligence and blockchain into their businesses. This includes industries that handle food, healthcare, pharma, and even gardening companies!

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For those who are still skeptical, we will break down exactly why you should introduce blockchain and artificial intelligence technology into your biotech company.

1) Automate Compound/Drug Discovery

One of the largest charges of the biotech industry is to modify living organisms, turning them into chemicals that can then be used in the creation and development of drugs for the pharmaceutical industries.

This is usually an expensive, time-consuming experience. A recent study revealed that a company can expect to pay between $161 million and $2 billion to complete the clinical trial process of a new drug.

Much of this expense is due to the fact that the biotech industry currently uses human analytics and laboratory experiments to uncover suitable compounds for testing. These additional tests, and the cost of paying employees for hours worked, leads to expenses your company could reduce by employing state-of-the-art technology.

In this case, artificial intelligence may be the way forward.

Using images from machine learning algorithms, the technology can be used to predict which untested compounds are worth exploring in more detail.

This will allow biotech companies, and their employees, to spend time exploring promising drugs that are more likely to gain approval during the clinical trial stage, rather than wasting time and money on drugs that will not improve your reputation and profit.

The development and testing process is far quicker, and even speeds up, once artificial intelligence algorithms better understand what they’re being asked to do. This allows the company where you are the CIO or CTO to test more products and more quickly exclude those that won’t work.

2) Find Alternate Uses for Chemical Compounds

When modifying organisms into chemicals that can be used by pharmaceutical industries to be turned into drugs, biotech companies usually only look for chemical compounds that can treat one disorder.

Additional uses for certain compounds typically aren’t discovered until the clinical trial process. At this point several different compounds have probably been discovered, thus making it difficult to discover whether a compound is effective for treating other disorders.

Incorporating artificial intelligence into the process allows you to employ algorithms to find compounds and chemical structures that can be specifically targeted to treat several diseases at once.

This lets you diversify the pool of compounds you’re using to treat certain diseases and may give you answers towards other discoveries within the industry.

Who knows, with artificial intelligence technology, a biotech organization could even discover the chemical compound that cures Alzheimer’s!

3) Voids or Reduces the Possibility of Human Error

In the biotech industry, it’s extremely important for executives to do everything possible to prevent the possibility of human error because any error can bring great cost to the company.

Inaccurately reporting a chemical compound’s properties can lead other companies to explore it further, or for your own company to do the same, thus spending untold sums on a compound that isn’t necessarily going to benefit humans.

Human error can also have a significant impact on patients because it can reduce the quality of the drugs created from your chemical compound, and may lead them to receive a less effective treatment than they may have received from another drug.

Using artificial intelligence allows you to stamp out the possibility of human error within the biotech industry overall, as well as your individual biotech company. It does this by creating algorithms that determine which compounds might be worth further exploration and discarding those that aren’t worth the effort. But this isn’t all.

Artificial intelligence can handle big data sets more easily than humans, allowing more accurate reporting of the true findings for any given compound. This avoids laboratory or analysis failings and provides your company with the necessary answers within a much shorter period of time.

If executives within your biotech company aren’t sure about their findings, they can also use artificial intelligence technology to easily double check their results and determine whether to continue investigating the compound, without having to again start from the beginning of the discovery process.

Blockchain technology is also useful for avoiding the possibility of human error. This is because the software prevents suspicious activity from being recorded in the chain so that it is not written off as an abnormality.

The blockchain process was largely created to increase security, but it can also prevent misinformation from spreading to other members within your biotech company. This allows senior members to double check for accurate data recording, discover where any human error took place, and make changes and input the correct data in the appropriate location.

4) Tracks Your Process

Biotech companies must often simultaneously explore many different living organisms in order to learn which can be modified into chemical compounds that will have the best benefit to humans.

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As an executive, you’ll be overseeing many different exploration studies at the same time. Not only can this get confusing, but it is not always easy to keep on top of processes; even those conducting the research may get confused.

Instead of retracing your steps, or repeating parts of the process to avoid human or laboratory errors, the use of blockchain could revolutionize the way we keep track of processes and relevant data in the biotech industry.

Blockchain technology enables you to use individualized chains to record data sets for each specific living organism or chemical compound you are researching.

This allows researchers and senior employees (executives, CEO’s, and managers) to gain better control over their data and know exactly what is occurring in an experiment at any point in time. It also prevents errors that result from humans incorrectly recording data. Such errors can cost enormous sums if the error isn’t discovered until further exploration has taken place.

If you are using more than one security network to backup your work, you could find yourself in a situation where one stops working, allows people access and tamper with your data.

In this situation, your researchers might have no idea what has transpired and thus operate on incorrect conclusions.

On the other hand, even if the researchers recognize what has happened, it might be the case that the research data has sufficiently tampered with that researchers might need to start from scratch.

By using blockchain, however, the success of such hacking attempts is almost impossible, meaning your data will be exactly where you need it, when you need it, with no alteration.

Artificial intelligence can also be used to track where your biotech company is at in its testing with certain studies using algorithms that allow biotech companies to retrace their steps in seconds. This prevents researchers from having to spend the time that could have been used for research rediscovering their data, or having to start completely from scratch.

Artificial intelligence can also be used to complete tasks more efficiently, giving you a more limited possibility of losing your data halfway through a study, and less opportunity to forget where you are with the examination of any specific chemical compounds.

5) Secures Your Discoveries

As you are surely well aware, the biotech industry is extremely competitive. It is predicted to soon be worth $727.1 billion by 2025; it isn’t difficult to see why. Even though it might make your job as an executive easier to imagine everyone within your industry as honest and friendly, this isn’t the case, unfortunately.

Whether it’s amateurs wanting to steal what you have already discovered to contribute towards the counterfeit drug market that also costs biotechnology and pharma companies $200 billion a year, or competitors wanting to find out what their competitors are hiding, you need to constantly look for better ways to keep them out.

Biotech’s current answer to this problem is to use several different pieces of security software to keep out as many threats as possible. However, this could be doing more damage than good.

What happens if one software goes down, leaving loopholes that others aren’t able to cover? What if a hacker becomes clever and learns how to overcome the measures you have in place?

Using blockchain, a single piece of technology can combine and overrule the several different kinds of security software that is currently in place, you needn’t worry.

A distributed, immutable ledger that is used for storing data, blockchain’s expert network is cryptographically encrypted to enhance and protect many different forms of data. It doesn’t have a centralized hub, as is the case with most security software, thus preventing hackers from being able to outsmart your systems and gain easy access to your discoveries.

Blockchain will also prevent anomaly data from entering into the chain, increasing security measures should someone try and trick the system.

In fact, blockchain software is so hard to hack into that it’s widely thought to be impossible, thereby making sure your chemical compound secrets are kept safe until you are ready to release them. This means there is absolutely no possibility of counterfeit companies, or your competition, taking stolen glory unless they hear it from your mouth first.

Summary

As you can see, there are many reasons why the biotech industry should embrace artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. They have already been shown to work together—and interdependently—to revolutionize traditional practices in many different industries. The same could be true for the biotech industry if more executives, CIO and CTOs were willing to give it a chance.

To get straight to the point, there are just four points you need to bear in mind before embracing artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.

Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence have the following benefits:

  • Reduce costs
  • Increase accuracy
  • Improve operational efficiency
  • Improve the quality of life for patients and supporting personnel

With a market that is set to increase by 7.4% in the next 6 years, your company cannot afford to wait to embrace these technologies. It’s time to let go of concerns about risks, and be the frontrunner in a change to the industry that will matter for decades to come.

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This article was written by Codrin Arsene, CEO @ Healthcare Weekly, healthtech magazine