COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus, and the big unique challenge is not only is it a novel pathogen in humans, but many of the technologies being pursued for treatment are relatively novel, as well. No RNA vaccines have yet been approved by the FDA, so while vaccine developers are moving as quickly as possible, the process still must be very thorough. A lot of information is being published online through research studies, drugs and vaccines across stages of development, business events and clinical trials and everyone has their eye on the proverbial finish line.
In the first week of March, more than 500 research papers were published as opposed to 200 for the whole month of February. According to Signals Analytics, this comes on top of more than 151 drugs that are being developed, 376 clinical trials started since January, 458 business events since December and 2670 research papers also published since January and puts into perspective the volume of information that is being disseminated. Within these papers, media articles, business events and drug developments are powerful trends that can serve to mitigate the risks and shorten the timeline to developing a COVID-19 vaccine. The challenge is that the most valuable insights are found by harmonizing and connecting all the disparate sources. Managing this by human labor alone will not make a dent in the critical timeline that is required right now.
This is where advanced analytics comes in.
Connecting a wide range of sources including clinical trials, research papers, business events, announcements, media coverage, drug developments and more, leading advanced analytics platforms will leverage patented Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques and curated taxonomies to extract context and generate insights. These are typically presented in a range of dashboards. In the case of COVID-19 and vaccine development, heads of research, development, and innovation as well as leaders responsible for growth, business development, mergers and acquisitions will look to these dashboards to address many important business questions such as: what are the leading and emerging targets being analyzed for COVID-1, which are the leading and emerging drugs and vaccines that are being researched and tested, which drugs are being repurposed to treat COVID-19, and which entities are leading and emerging for COVID-19 testing and treatment?
Having immediate access to these answers as well as to the sources of data helps to speed up the vaccine and drug development process, guiding companies where to put investments, and find potential licensing and partnership opportunities.
Proven to cut time to insight
Many life sciences organizations continue to manually integrate multiple data types and sources in order to keep track of potential opportunities, but most end up with losing propositions. They are not alone. Many enterprises report shortfalls with their data management strategy including difficulties in accessing accurate, relevant and timely data, coupled with the fact that translating it among teams is nearly impossible. With the deluge of information continuing to stream in, especially around COVID-19, the problem gets more and more challenging. Applying advanced analytics has been proven to cut time to insight by more than half while yielding more targeted engagements with high-priority targets. This leads to optimized search and evaluation processes, and more efficient benchmarking and prioritization of inbound partnership offers.
Early insights on COVID-19 vaccine development
As relates to COVID-19, using advanced analytics, researchers have been able to uncover some critical information already:
· Synthetic mRNA, which we have seen in the Moderna trial, has gone to clinic in record time. So far, FDA has yet to approve an mRNA vaccine so this is definitely going to be a trend that will have an impact on the Vaccine market beyond the current pandemic.
· Virus like particles, led by companies such as Medicago, has seen a vaccine candidate in under a month and if successful, will have to ability to scale up without much delay.
· Another synthetic solution is DNA vaccines, such as the vaccine candidate INO-4800 from Inovio. The company mentioned it expects to start clinical trials in the U.S. with 30 participants in April (also plans to conduct trials in China and South Korea).
Companies today are spending enormous sums and allocating armies of data analysts to collect and harmonize both internal and external data sets, yet continue to face challenges in accessing accurate data, linking it across departments, gaining insights in a timely manner and tying them to critical business outcomes. When it comes to vaccine development, advanced analytics can replace these manual or siloed processes and provide the biggest bang for the buck in terms of improving efficiencies and generating cost-savings and faster time to insight. Given the situation we are in, every minute counts. Technology is here to surface the clues that will identify the most promising vaccines and effective treatments.
Dr. Shlomi Madar is a seasoned healthcare executive with 15 years of experience and a strong scientific background. He works closely with leading Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals companies to help them become data driven organizations, embrace innovation, and drive success via evidence and analytics.