Healthcare Analytics, Population Health Management, Healthcare Big Data

Precision Medicine News

Amazon, APIs to Support Cloud Informatics Platform for Life Sciences

Amazon Web Services, Accenture, and Merck are creating a new cloud-based informatics research platform that aims to accelerate drug development.

Cloud-based infrastructure and APIs

Source: Thinkstock

By Jennifer Bresnick

- Amazon Web Services (AWS), Accenture, and Merck have announced a collaboration to create a cloud-based informatics research platform to support advances in the life sciences.

The project will accelerate drug development by improving efficiency and innovation in the early stages of the development process, the companies said in a press release.  Researchers will have access to new data aggregation and big data analytics capabilities with lower barriers to entry.

Standard application programming interfaces (APIs) will allow scientists to collaborate more effectively and conduct advanced research across disparate organizations.

“Pharmaceutical and biotech R&D is evolving rapidly, with advances in biological sciences generating an increase in the volume and diversity of research data,” said Brad Michel, managing director of Accenture Scientific Informatics Services.

“Understanding the industry’s need to drive faster, more efficient and more innovative scientific research, we are pleased to collaborate with Merck and AWS to launch the platform and associated ecosystem to help our clients accelerate the discovery of new, targeted treatments for patients.”

Merck will be the first pharmaceutical company to take advantage of the informatics research platform, the international life sciences company said. 

“The convergence of numerous scientific and technological advances provides unprecedented opportunities to translate novel insights into human disease biology into meaningful therapies,” said Joe Miletich, senior vice president of research at Merck.

“Capitalizing on these opportunities requires an ability to rapidly find and explore associations across data sets that are increasing dramatically in size and number. Our collaboration will create a scientific technology marketplace providing the capabilities our researchers need to extend our tradition of scientific innovation, enabling our mission of bringing new breakthrough therapies to the patients who need them.”

Access to cloud-based development environments is becoming increasingly important for researchers exploring topics in precision medicine, pharmaceutical development, and personalized care. 

The enormous volumes of data involved in genetic research and drug development require robust storage and data exchange capabilities, and a number of cloud services companies – AWS among them – are now vying to be the sandbox of choice for healthcare researchers.

“Pharmaceutical companies are seeking ways to adopt a cloud-first strategy to enhance and advance their R&D drug discovery practices, and we’re thrilled to be at the leading edge of these efforts as we work with Accenture to launch a new industry platform,” said Mike Clayville, vice president, Worldwide Commercial Sales and Business Development, Amazon Web Services, Inc. 

Accenture will enlist a group of clients to provide governance and feedback for the cloud-based platform. 

The tool will be available to pharmaceutical, biotech, and other scientific research organizations that are in search of new approaches to informatics and personalized medicine research.

The collaborative hopes to reduce duplicate spending and free up resources for companies that have been struggling to devote time and energy to advancing innovation, said Accenture.

“In the research space, there’s been a tendency to underinvest in technology,” explained Michel in an accompanying video.  “A lot of the infrastructure is ten, or in some cases twenty, years old.  A lot of the technology can be very fragmented – sometimes homegrown, custom systems – and that’s creating an environment where the systems are having trouble keeping up with the breakthroughs in modern science.”

“At the same time, life sciences companies are investing a disproportionate amount of their budget to just keep the lights on, and they don’t have the budget remaining to reinvest in innovation that can drive improvements in their business.”

The “cloud-informatics-as-a-service” platform will allow participants to shift their focus back to research and scientific advancement.

“By working together to solve the precompetitive pieces, we can create a best in class industry platform that multiple companies can harness to improve their research operations, help advance science, and help get breakthrough therapies to patients faster,” said Michel.

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