The Covid-19 pandemic has posed many new challenges for pharmaceutical startups. What needs to be done to be able to survive and develop, especially during this period. The StartUs Insight newspaper based on the analytical research of "1745 famous startups in the pharmaceutical industry in 2020", found the most outstanding startups. To be able to turn challenges into opportunities, pharmaceutical companies have a "secret" for startups to survive the pandemic. 


1. Research and make medicine

Traditional drug development takes more than a decade and billions of dollars to bring a drug to market. Emerging start-ups are using technologies like Deep Learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up the search for candidate drugs. Data-driven drug discovery enables effective analysis through large amounts of biomedical literature and “omics” data(*). This provides information on new drug design as well as finding targeted drug targets in unmet conditions. Additionally, it allows for in-silico testing (**) of new and existing drugs in a range of other conditions.

(*) Omics: Biology-related sciences whose names end with the suffix "omics"  such as: Gene and functional gene research (Genomics), protein and protein function research (Proteomics), research Metabolomics.

(**) in-silico: simulation test on computer


2. Clinical trials

Clinical trials take up a considerable amount of time in drug development. Many patients frequently drop out of clinical trials. Pharmaceutical startups also have difficulty recruiting the right patients for a team. On the other hand, patients, especially those with rare diseases or are orphans, often find it difficult to find a clinical trial near them. Startups are now using AI, analytics, and real-world evidence to encourage patient participation in clinical trials.


3. COVID-19

Any new list change for 2020-2021 would be incomplete without mentioning the biggest recipe for the year - the corona pandemic. First, pharmaceutical companies were up to the task and developed many rapid test kits, including antibody-based tests. Now, there is a race underway to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to market. Both Moderna and Pfizer have published promising results for patients based on mRNA. In addition, research and development startups build therapies and vaccines to get things back to normal.


4. Vaccine

The coronavirus pandemic demonstrates the urgent need for vaccine development for infectious diseases. With gene-editing technology, startups now offer all-bacterial vaccines with specific antigens for effective immunotherapy. New technologies for delivery, as well as new platforms such as exosomes or virosomes, ensure that vaccines work at a precise target and with minimal side effects. Pharmaceutical startups are also developing efficient cold chains to ensure vaccines reach people in even remote areas.


5. Microbial-based therapy

Numerous studies demonstrate a link between the gut microbiome and the development of many diseases. These include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), type 2 diabetes, autism spectrum disorders, and chronic diseases. A number of pharmaceutical startups are working on therapies that modulate the microbial composition of the human body to reverse the disease. These biological therapies use live microorganisms to help prevent or treat certain diseases.


6. Regenerative cell therapy

As gene editing becomes easier and less expensive to perform, autologous cell therapy is gaining more and more attention. For conditions like blood malignancies, pharmaceutical startups offer cell therapies with little or no immune response. Increasing understanding of stem cell differentiation also facilitates event for the development of startups offering regenerative cell therapy. These therapies are particularly beneficial for patients with aging-related disorders and autoimmune conditions..


7. Omics technology

The 21st century has changed the way pharmaceutical companies research as well as the life sciences fields. Most of this change comes from the breakthrough of omics technology in areas such as gene and gene function research (Genomics), protein research and protein function (Proteomics), ...

By digitizing the human genome, startups have found breakthrough solutions for precision medicine techniques and preventive healthcare. Relying on data on human genes and proteins to find new ways to deliver drugs to the right site of action.

There are many other omics technologies that are still in the early stages and will gradually be deployed for new drug research over the next few years.


Source: PEC