Accenture and Merck partner with Amazon Web Services to launch a new platform to promote innovation
Accenture and Merck have sought to collaborate with Amazon Web Services (AWS) in the development of a cloud-based informatics research platform designed to help organisations in the life sciences industry improve productivity, efficiency and innovation in the early stages of drug development.
The platform will enable an ecosystem that accelerates innovation by creating open, industry-standard application programming interfaces for core research functions, allowing researchers to rapidly adopt new capabilities. Scientific application providers, content providers and technology innovators will benefit from lower barriers to entry as they bring new capabilities to market, helping life sciences companies re-imagine processes, user experiences, and approaches to data-intensive research.
The need for a cloud-based environment for businesses is becoming essential, particularly within research and development to boost collaboration and the development of new treatments and personalised care plans through the use of advanced data and analytics.
The platform will allow life sciences researchers and informatics professionals to quickly aggregate, access and analyse research data from multiple applications. Data will now be accessible through a single set of interfaces, with integrated workflow, reporting and analytics capabilities. Incorporating a modern user interface and a secure, multi-tenant environment, the platform will unify user experience elements and enable easier collaboration across the research and development (R&D) enterprise, including with external partners.
“In the research space, there’s been a tendency to underinvest in technology,” explained Brad Michel, managing director of Accenture Scientific Informatics Services in a video released by the company. “A lot of the infrastructure is in some cases 20 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.”
“Pharmaceutical and biotech R&D is evolving rapidly, with advances in biological sciences generating an increase in the volume and diversity of research data.
“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,” he added.
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Merck will be the first pharmaceutical company to use the platform.
“The convergence of numerous scientific and technological advances provides unprecedented opportunities to translate novel insights into human disease biology into meaningful therapies. Capitalising on these opportunities requires an ability to rapidly find and explore associations across data sets that are increasing dramatically in size and number,” commented Joe Miletich, senior vice president of research at Merck.
“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.”
Built on AWS, the platform will leverage its secure cloud services to help increase operational efficiency, strengthen business intelligence, and quickly develop innovative products and services.
“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,” observed Mike Clayville, vice president, Worldwide Commercial Sales and Business Development, Amazon Web Services, Inc.
This new platform is one of the outcomes of the ongoing collaboration between Accenture and AWS through the Accenture AWS Business Group.
Accenture is also forming a coalition of clients to govern and further advance the capabilities of this platform, offering an opportunity for pre-competitive industry collaboration. The platform is available to pharmaceutical, biotech and scientific research organisations that are seeking unique approaches to solve research informatics challenges.
Dexcom: changing the lives of people with type 1 diabetes
It is estimated that 9.3% of adults around the world are living with type 1 diabetes, which amounts to a total of 463 million people. A further 1.1 million children and adolescents under the age of 20 are living with the condition.
Unlike the more prevalent type 2 diabetes, where the body still produces insulin and symptoms develop slowly, people with type 1 diabetes need regular insulin injections or pumps, and must monitor their sugar levels frequently.
In recent years a number of remote glucose monitoring systems have become available that patients can use at home. These work with a sensor, usually placed under the skin, that measures glucose levels every few minutes. This information is then transmitted wirelessly to a device like a smartphone or tablet, which can then be shared with their clinician.
British actress Nina Wadia's son Aidan, 14, has type 1 diabetes, and has been managing his condition using Dexcom, a glucose monitoring system used by patients all over the world. Here Wadia explains how Dexcom has improved their lives.
As a parent of someone with type 1 diabetes, what is your day-to-day life like?
Being able to take a breath, think and pivot constantly without getting frustrated becomes an essential mindset because sometimes it feels like each day is determined to be different from the day before. Whatever worked yesterday is going to misfire today.
Which areas of yours and Aidan’s life are most impacted by diabetes?
The one thing that you have to fight hard to reclaim is spontaneity, especially when it comes to food and exercise. It’s only when this is taken do you realise how essential each one is. You can be flexible and there are no real limits, but only in the sense that a great athlete can be flexible without limits because they’ve trained super hard to be that way. So we’ve all had to become athletes when it comes to being spontaneous.
How has Dexcom helped you and Aidan?
Dexcom has brought future science fiction to real life today. The continuous glucose monitoring system is tiny, sits discreetly on his body and gives him a ten-day breather between sensor changes, so it's goodbye finger-pricking seven times daily.
Dexcom is totally active at a grass roots level and for Diabetes Awareness has pledged to donate £2,000 if #DexcomDiabetesStories and/or #DexcomWarriorStories is shared 200 times! I’ll be sharing more on social media and would love to hear how other families are winning their fights.
Maybe most importantly Dexcom is trying to introduce a reimbursement programme for type 1 diabetes patients which will give greater access to modern, life changing hi-tech. I want to spread the word on the importance of accessing it through this campaign.
If you compared your life today with how it was before Aidan was using Dexcom, what has changed?
It's always working, which lets him take his mind off diabetes for longer stretches. It also lets me get off his back. We both receive alerts so I no longer have to pester him by asking him what his number is, and especially importantly, I don’t have to wake him at night to prick his finger if I’m worried. Dexcom gave us back our sleep!