Indian pharmaceutical industry is growing with an impressive pace for last couple of years and is expected to be in the top 10 global markets in value terms by 2020. The industry is progressing with a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15 percent over the last five years and is adopting new business models to serve its targeted audience faster, and better. Good economic growth, high burden of diseases, improvement in healthcare infrastructure and increased awareness have tipped to be the reasons behind such optimistic projections.
However, there are many areas on which any pharmaceutical company should look into- such as organ-on-chip, 3D Bio-printing, AI, and Antibiotics Discovery. Ignoring such vital areas can otherwise can hinder the growth prospects of pharmaceutical industry.
Limitations of current planar, animal models and static cell culture system affect the drug discovery process to a larger extent. Many times it leads to increased drug failure rates which even cost pharmaceuticals companies billions of dollars. Moreover, many human diseases are still not modelled accurately using ‘in vitro’ process and thus hinder the growth in therapy development. Shortcomings of these models started a debate in the pharmaceutical vertical to develop a more physiological model relevant to human organs and thus lead to the growth of organs-on-chips.
Organ-on-chip offers a wide range of applications such as phenotypic screening, diseases modelling, and patient stratification. Scientists believe that organs-on-chips have huge potential to make the drug discovery process efficient and faster as its microchips contain living cells which can mimic processes in the body such as peristalsis, breathing and infection. Such chips are tiny devices that imitate the structure, physiology and function of human organs. Researchers have represented over two dozen organs in on-chip systems, famously includes- Lung, Heart, Kidney, Artery, Skin. Some are even working to imitate a human-on-chip as well.
While there is a lot of scepticism existed behind organs-on-chips some six to seven years ago, many pharmaceutical companies are now working towards it in a full-fledged mode and embraced this concept into their business model as well. Market researchers predicts that organs-on-chip field which was valued only at $5 million in 2016 will witnessed a meteoric rise in coming years and is expected to reach $170 million by 2023. This industry will grow with a CAGR of 63.2% from 2017 to 2023, researchers predict.
- 3D Bio-printing
Every year thousands of people lose their life due to organ failure. Many times even after being financially capable, people do not receive organs at the right time as there is a wide gap between the growing demand of organs v/s number of registered donors in the industry. Usage 3D bio-printing thus many see as a solution for tackling this critical problem. In bio-printing, experts use patients own living cells to reproduce organs to reduce the risk of rejecting cells. This further lower the risk of taking immunosuppressant drugs which are needed after organ transplant and many times causes trouble for the patients in terms of loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, increased hair growth, and hand trembling. Moreover, transplantation using bio-printing only involves only one individual that needs to be operated on and hence, lowers the number of people need to be hospitalized during critical procedures.
Many believe that organs made form bio-printing can also be used for drug discovery and testing, tissue engineering, research and study. These are the reasons why pharmaceuticals companies and hospitals are looking towards 3D bio-printing with an array of hope. It is mainly used for the creation and transplantation of several tissues including multi-layered skin, heart tissue, cartilaginous structures, bone, vascular grafts, and tracheal splints.
It can also help pharmaceutical companies in reducing overall cost associated with drug manufacturing once get transformed from an experimental stage to a fully functional mode.
Increasing R&D expenditure, availability of venture capital, and government grants are fuelling the growth of 3D bio-printing. It is expected that 3D bio-printing market will reach USD 2.6 billion by 2024.
- Increased Adoption of AI
Developing a drug is a time consuming and expensive task. The current problem of pharmaceutical industry is that nine out of 10 drugs fail to make it to pre-registration stage due to their poor absorption, distribution, metabolism, or excretion (ADME).
In silico (on a computer) drug design, an innovative technique based on AI can help pharmaceutical companies to reduce such a shocking drug failure ratio. Such techniques allow the mapping of drugs structures and targets that can lead to a more successful drug development without costly scientific development.
Another area of AI which is widely becoming popular is- advanced analytics. Every day thousands of journals and research paper get published on various prominent research institutes. Genius minds from across the globe sweat all through the years to create something concrete but unable to gain any insights form others research concerning to similar set of problems. Analytics has solved such problem. It process vast amount of scientific data and help pharmaceutical companies to develop drug at much faster pace by predicting the properties of new drug candidate in advance. This is the reason many companies now-a-days using AI to predict risks and their drivers to enable preventive maintenance and remediation of the drugs.
- New Antibiotics Discovery
Antibiotic resistant bacteria- superbug led to the death of more than 700,000 people all across the world. And, if UK government is to be believed, this number will dramatically jump up to 10 million by 2050; if necessary steps not taken in the arena of new antibiotic discovery. Experts believe irresponsible prescription of antibiotics even for the normal cases, and increased usage of antibiotics in farming accelerating the rate of bacterial mutation, rendering them to resistant to drug with alarming pace.
On the other hand, antibiotic discovery has been a much ignored area amongst the researchers. Most of the pharmaceutical companies are more inclined towards researching and developing drugs that are more “economically feasible”. This is the reason the last novel antibiotic classes was introduced some thirty years ago.
However, with the growing need to tackle the menace of superbug, beneficiary reforms in the legislation and increased investment in antibiotic research- many organizations are now working day-in day-out to discover new antibiotics.
In 2015, a group of scientists made a breakthrough in the antibiotics vertical with the discovery of Teixobactin, a powerful antibiotics class that has the potential to withstand the development of bacterial resistance against it.
In 2018, malacidins, a new family of antibiotics were discovered. However it is currently being in its nascent stage, but one can witness an increasing trend towards discovering new antibiotic class among the scientists community.