The inter linking of medicine and technology is paving way for newer opportunities in pharmaceutical medication, surgery, and health monitoring. Medicine is increasingly being interspersed with fields such as computer science, nanotechnology and biotechnology to give hybrid fields that are slowly taking over traditional pharmaceuticals.
Some of these fields are set to redefine the future of pharmaceuticals.
Precision medicine is a field that attempts at discovering the biological basis of disease using clinical and molecular information of a patient, obtained by converting DNA into data through genome sequencing.
This data is used for identifying specific gene abnormalities that help understand which types of patients a drug would be most effective on, and who is likelier to experience side-effects.
The aim of precision medicine is to produce new targeted therapies and re-engineer existing drugs.
The mHealth app uses sensors that aide in monitoring health of a patient and conduct clinical research.
The novelty of this technology is that it can be integrated in smart phones for tracking movements, taking measurements, and recording information useful in pre- and post-market patient clinical trials. All this information is stored in large databases that can be accessed by any health official, research centre or institute.
The advantage of using the app is that it allows a large number of people to participate in the trials and record their data simultaneously for powerful results that would help pharmaceutical companies develop better drugs.
Smart phone giant Apple has several mHealth apps for clinical research on its iPhone, including apps for Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, asthma and breast cancer.
Samsung, FitBit, Jawbone and Garmin are some of the other big companies that have integrated mHealth apps as a (optional) service.
Nanobots & Nanoparticles
Nanobots are proposed, minuscule pre-programmed robots – a few nanometers in size – that can be injected into the human body to perform surgeries internally and also carry antibodies to fight any disease including cancer. Scientists are still working on this technology and are developing specialized pills to carry these bots to the targeted sites.
Nanoparticles, on the other hand, can be used to monitor when and if the patients are taking their medications. These particles, once consumed, would send signals to demonstrate that the medication has been taken and the information would then be fed back to a physician or to the patient through a mobile app, as per scientists.
Artificial Intelligence-based computers, such as IBM’s Watson, are being used by pharmaceutical managements for learning and interpreting millions of pages of scientific literature and data to assist pharmacists in drug discovery and repurposing existing ones.
Currently, IBM’s supercomputer Watson is efficiently discovering previously unknown connections between diseases and, as it continues to learn, it can modify its own recommendations based on newer information.
IBM has reached out to several researchers and scientists at large pharmaceutical conglomerates, which are reportedly satisfied with the AI and already started using it to assist in research and development.
Some of the companies collaborating with IBM to teach Watson to read and understand more scientific papers and speed up drug discovery are, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi.