Thursday, October 4, 2012

Modernizing Drug Software

            In the article entitled “Former Lab Rat Looks to Modernize Drug Software,” author Ashlee Vance of Bloomberg Businessweek, sets out to examine the startup named Syapse that seeks to “create a cloud computing service aimed at biotech and pharmaceutical companies and scientists and doctors.”  Founder Jonathan Hirsch’s goal “was to provide these groups a contemporary way to manage data gathered through experiments and trials and to analyze that information.”
            What led Hirsch to create this software was his sheer dismay at seeing scientists and researchers record data manually through archaic means such as Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint. I can only imagine the amount of valuable time that has been lost due to the individual need for a researcher to manually update information each time something new is found during the trial. This software saves scientists and doctors from manually inserting and researching information. If these specialists have all the information they need readily available, they can focus their time and energy on more beneficial advancements.
            Efficiency and speed or promptness is one of the most important aspects during drug trials and research. Major pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Sanofi-Aventis, and Novartis can use Syapse as a way to cut time off of their drug trials and therefore release their new drugs to the market more rapidly and ultimately, save more lives. In addition, the studies of one branch of the research can be easily synchronized with those of another. This allows multiple sections of the production of the drugs to collaborate on one project by each submitting individual reports. Consequently, central scientific projects can be completed more quickly and more efficiently.
            It seems that these researchers have been using such outdated software for so long because they simply are not well versed in advanced programming. Not only does Syapse make pharmaceutical companies and labs more efficient in terms of speed of data recording, but also gives the researchers the ability to access a highly advanced piece of software without the need to learn programming. If Syapse required the learning of advanced programming, that would set many of these labs back by who knows how long. Syapse seemingly offers the best of both worlds: efficiency and easy accessibility. 
            While the software allows for a swift production of drugs in hopes of connecting the “companies developing the drugs [to] the doctors dishing out the pills”, it also lends itself easily to error. Doctors and scientists who are trained to research and make judgments on their own are left to rely upon the analysis of the software. By combining the data from their experiments with the information from other studies, the software creates a report. However, medical results are never that cut and dry. There are more influences and problems that can arise throughout the process, the less accurate the reports from the Syapse are going to be. Although the software has the potential to greatly enhance business progression, there are still some potential problems that need to be addressed.

1 comment:

  1. Mark, I have to say this was an excellent article. The subject touched on a matter directly and indirectly affecting each and every one of us: pharmaceutical research. Whether it be the new version of Advil you need to take for a headache or a version of Oxycotin with less side effects, every breakthrough in pharmaceutical research could make our lives a little or a lot better. The minds in this field of research conduct hours upon hours in laboratories, but as Mark says, waste countless of these hours on the recording methods. Syapse allows for researchers’ time to be put to better use and in return, make the world a better place through less pain and suffering. The beauty of Syapse lies in its compatibility to researchers with all levels of understanding of computers. The simple format allows records to be keep and results to be stored.

    There are many areas of improvement with Syapse. Could the program be transformed to allow researchers to collaborate their efforts on similar topics? Could experiments be compared to other researchers more easily? Could there be a social networking aspect intertwined with the research world? How practical would these ideas be and would they benefit or take away from the research.

    Record shows communication only adds to success. In today’s connected world, the unfortunate truth is people will do anything to succeed, even if its dishonest. Many medical research stays private so one person doesn’t plagiarize someone else’s efforts. Having addressed the recording of data, if Syapse would create an incentive for labs to publish experiments and interconnect many intuitive minds, the research side of pharmaceuticals would flourish. Doctors could use Syapse to inform labs about certain responses to certain medicines which could spark new experiments. Syapse is the first step in revitalizing an outdated,pharmaceutical research world. The digitally recorded and stored data would allow for possible collaboration between labs in real time. In simpler terms, many hands make light work...