Artificial intelligence (AI) reached the pharmaceutical sector where it had an incalculable impact. The countless possibilities that have opened up have not been ignored by the big pharmaceutical companies and, as such, it is a trend that will mark the future of the industry for the next decades. The result is the appearance of so-called “Biotechnologies”, which, increasingly, are a fundamental part of large companies in the health sector.
The Web Summit brought together Johnson & Johnson CIO, Jim Swanson and Recursion President and COO, Tina Larson, within the 'Can AI beat biology?' Panel, to discuss how technology and, more specifically, AI have taken on a decisive role in the way in which biology is studied, understood and worked on.
Tina Larson explained that for AI to be effective in identifying / analyzing, developing and producing medicines, "it is necessary that the data to which this technology has access, be as good or better than the technology itself". Hence, it is important to highlight the importance of living in an era where "the amount of data collected is enormous, so it is necessary to know how to work it to converge with the available cutting-edge technologies".
The president of Recursion, points out three technologies that revolutionized the pharmaceutical industry and that were not possible five years ago: “the first is laboratory automation that made it possible to accelerate laboratory experiments, going from tens to millions per week. The second is that we can manipulate biology in unprecedented ways, allowing us to fight disease in a completely different way. Finally, the computational tools, such as AI, that allowed all these advances to converge ”.
Jim Swanson stresses the importance of using the data collected in the healthcare industry, whether from patients or employees, allowing it to be used in a widespread manner in large companies, such as Johnson & Johson, “the technological ecosystem, specifically AI and of data research, has helped to transform the way we think about science ”.
Swanson adds that to implement such changes “it is necessary to have strong scientific leadership within companies that, in our case, is in charge of re-imagining the process of discovering new drugs, re-imagining clinical procedures, for that it is necessary to have the right talents, the right technologies and the most suitable data ”.
The Johnson & Johnson CIO also stressed the importance of promoting more direct collaboration among the various departments that make up a pharmaceutical company “we cannot have scientists in one corner, software engineers in another corner and data analysis engineer in another”. Swanson says one of the biggest challenges is "bringing all these people and technologies together to solve important problems that are plaguing the world today".