Digitized and data-driven, drug development is poised for a major leap forward

Drug development is on the cusp of becoming considerably faster, smarter and all-around better. That’s because a perfect storm of innovation is brewing around the combination of Big Data, wearable and ingestible sensors and monitors and, not least, AI-augmented data analytics.

So suggest the authors of an opinion piece published online May 2 in the Harvard Business Review.

“Digital technologies will allow researchers to measure the health data of clinical trial participants on a regular basis during the normal course of daily living without significantly disrupting them,” the authors wrote. “They will make it possible to more accurately assess an individual’s health as well as how the study drug is performing.”

Further, they added, these developments will help invite participation from study subjects who might otherwise balk at the prospect of missing work.

Calling the ongoing monitoring of physiological data “continuomics,” the authors predict the field will do much to advance personalized medicine.

“By linking information about an individual’s genotype and phenotype, continuomics can lead to individualized diagnoses and therapies on a scale previously unimaginable,” they wrote.

Two of the piece’s four authors work for the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, so there may be a bit of salesmanship going on between the lines. Still, it’s a worthwhile read for those interested in the present and future of data-driven medical modernization.   

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