Diagnostic robots, drug printers, and breaking habits with an app: Three trends to watch for in 2018

Keeping up with the latest trends in pharma can be overwhelming-here are three technology trends that are changing the pharmaceutical marketing landscape in 2018


1) Artificial Intelligence: An extra set of very smart eyes

The mounting pile of data crucial for making medical decisions has healthcare professionals utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to expedite data analysis and interpretation.  AI is already helping scientists diagnose and treat deadly blood infections, which require a trained technician running a microscopic analysis of the blood.  With bloodstream infection mortality rates at nearly 40%, researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center turned to AI.  Scientists equipped a microscope with a convolutional neural network, a type of artificial intelligence based on the mammalian visual cortex, to identify bacteria that cause bloodstream infections with a 95% accuracy.  AI is also emerging in companies looking to reduce the costly price tag of drug commercialization.  Several pharmaceutical companies including Shionogi & Co and Seegene Inc. have recently pumped resources into developing AI systems that can quickly and accurately mine through data to better direct drug research and development efforts.

2) Ctrl + P for Drugs

The popularity of three-dimensional printing (3DP) has exploded in the past few years, with applications in producing prosthetic limbs and human tissue.  Scientists are also using 3DP to develop more personalized drugs, customized to your specific healthcare needs.  The  ZipDose 3D printer, trademarked by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals, can produce highly concentrated drug tablets that are quick to dissolve and easier to swallow.  In late 2017, Aprecia signed a partnership with Cycle Pharmaceuticals using the ZipDose printer to manufacture drugs for the treatment of rare medical conditions.  Aprecia isn’t the only company racing towards using 3DP in drug manufacturing, with Vitae Industries marketing the AutoCompounder, a 3D printer that reportedly can print pharmaceutical pills in just 10 minutes.  The technology to revolutionize precision medicine has scientists excited about a 3DP drug market that is estimated to reach $522 million by 2030.  

3) Want to stop (insert bad habit)? There’s an app for that

The future of healthcare may be in the palm of your hand.  With 64% of patients using digital devices (including mobile apps) to manage their health, mobile health app developers are racing to design technology that does more than track your steps.  Designed by Somatix, SmokeBeat is a novel mobile app designed to be used with smartwatches and wristbands to monitor smoking habits in real time.  The app can correctly identify 80% of all smoking episodes by utilizing a specific algorithm that is sensitive to the specific hand-to-mouth gestures that characterize smoking a cigarette.  Importantly, smokers using the SmokeBeat app reported a significant decline in the number of smoking episodes in a 30-day period.  Remote health monitoring has the potential to give doctors and patients a comprehensive view of health habits, allowing for personalized interventions.  With the mobile health market valued at over $23 billion, and 75% of Americans owning a smart phone, expect to see a growth in the number of healthcare apps aiming to help you lead a healthier life.

What scientific trends are you excited to follow in 2018?  Let me know over on Twitter @NeuroMegan

2 thoughts on “Diagnostic robots, drug printers, and breaking habits with an app: Three trends to watch for in 2018”

  1. Wow! The SmokeBeat app sounds really interesting. I hope it is successful. I think it would be great to use an app like this one in coordination with your doctor. An example would be an app that tracks your physical activity, sleep, eating, vital signs, and drinking/smoking. I think this would be a great resource for medical professionals and patients.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Using 3D printers to make drugs sounds like a viable answer to create medicine for rare diseases. Is it expensive? Could it ever be profitable?


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