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LABORATORY INFORMATICS


compliance quickly and cost-effectively. Against this backdrop, biotech and pharmaceutical organisations need an integrated, open and secure informatics platform to utilise their growing volumes of R&D data in the most efficient way. However, for many organisations, this


isn’t the reality. While large numbers of biotech and pharmaceutical firms have made the leap from paper-based workflows to laboratory information management systems (LIMS) and electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs), for a significant proportion, these tools are not used in a joined-up, integrated way.


Instead, they’re employed as point


solutions or assigned to specific workflows or departments – resulting in poor visibility over the full R&D pipeline, and severely limiting organisational output. Most importantly, when new technologies are brought on-line, these fragmented systems are often unable to cope. So, what’s the solution?


Cloud-based informatics: The solution to expanding R&D pipelines Cloud-based laboratory informatics platforms bring together R&D data, creating a single connected digital ecosystem for drug discovery, development and manufacture. In doing so, these systems make end- to-end pipeline data fully searchable, sharable, accessible and actionable, freeing organisations from the technical challenges associated with fragmented approaches. And because these tools are deployed through cloud-based architecture, they offer much greater flexibility and scalability compared to traditional in-house set-ups. In short, they offer the perfect solution to the challenge of managing an expanding information pipeline.


What’s more, because cloud-based


platforms are developed and maintained by independent software vendors, many boast innovative workflow support tools that would be unfeasible to develop in-house. For instance, some of the latest platforms incorporate artificial intelligence (AI) functionality, empowering organisations with highly-effective reporting and trending capabilities. AI algorithms can, for example, analyse complex unstructured biological data in real-time using machine learning, natural language processing and text analytics, enabling faster and smarter decision- making. Additionally, AI frees experienced scientists from some of the more routine and time-consuming data analysis responsibilities, so they can put their


www.scientific-computing.com | @scwmagazine


expertise to better use driving innovation – within the R&D pipeline. Cloud-based solutions also offer enhanced data sharing functionality, an increasingly important requirement for modern pharmaceutical data and analytics platforms. The last decade has witnessed a tangible shift towards more collaborative working practices, as stakeholders recognise that many of today’s most pressing healthcare challenges require knowledge and expertise from across the industry. Equally, growth in the contract research and manufacturing sector means that organisational partnerships are becoming the new norm. To thrive, biotech and pharmaceutical


companies need platform-based approaches that make securely sharing large datasets as simple as sending an email. Cloud-based platforms make


“The sustained growth in the volume of information generated by modern R&D workflows presents a challenge for biotech and pharmaceutical companies, in terms of organising and utilising these vast datasets”


data retrieval and distribution fast and straightforward, providing a solid framework on which to build successful partnerships. By giving authorised users real-time access to pipeline data – from genomics datasets through to chromatography method parameters – these platforms can streamline workflows, improve communication and accelerate R&D innovation at the click of a button.


Managing the R&D pipelines of tomorrow Developing, implementing and validating new IT infrastructure in-house can often be complex, expensive and resource- intensive. In contrast, the latest solutions make


migrating to a cloud-based informatics platform simple and straightforward. In particular, systems based on modular frameworks, such as Thermo Fisher Platform for Science software, offer additional flexibility and are capable of seamlessly integrating data from existing LIMS and ELN systems in a way that is consistent with an organisation’s growth needs. Even when a complete system


re-design is needed, data can be carried over in full from the previous framework. Alternatively, if partial upgrades to an existing platform are required to bring additional capabilities on-stream, new features can be added on without fundamental IT infrastructure having to be replaced.


One of the most important features of


cloud-based platforms is the ability to scale and adapt to users’ needs. Some providers offer application libraries that allow laboratories to install new features, tools and interfaces as their needs evolve and their pipelines grow. Because these pre-configured modular applications are designed to comply with the latest industry best practice and regulatory requirements, they are ready to be used alongside existing LIMS and ELNs from the moment they are installed. By supporting organisations through this flexible approach, cloud-based platform solutions can help laboratories tackle the R&D challenges that are most relevant to them, in the most cost-effective and scalable way. Biotech and pharmaceutical companies


are under continued pressure to find informatics solutions to manage the mountains of multi-dimensional data generated by their R&D workflows. To maintain the competitive advantage moving forwards, these platforms must make searching, sharing and manipulating large datasets quick and efficient, and above all, they must be capable of evolving with the rapidly changing drug development landscape. As a result, many future-savvy


organisations are implementing cloud- based informatics platforms to create a single, integrated digital ecosystem for their R&D data and analytics. These modern tools for data and analytics are bringing together R&D streams and overcoming the limitations associated with fragmented approaches, helping organisations to achieve greater pipeline oversight, boost efficiency and drive faster, more effective decision-making.


Faisal Mushtaq is the Vice President and General Manager of the Digital Science business unit at Thermo Fisher Scientific. Faisal began his career developing software solutions for healthcare providers. In recent years, Faisal has transitioned to executive management roles at firms that deliver focussed, software-as-a-service solutions


Reference [1]


JK Kulski. Next-Generation Sequencing – An Overview of the History, Tools, and “Omic” Applications, in Next Generation Sequencing – Advances, Applications and Challenges, 2016, Ed. JK Kulski, IntechOpen, DOI: 10.5772/61964.


October/November 2018 Scientific Computing World 25


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