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A 'Digital Skin' Innovation Could Revolutionize New Drug Development

Healthcare is undergoing a revolution. New technology and enhanced computer power are now aiding everything from how we find and develop drugs to how those drugs get delivered.

But it’s not just the medical sector – or even patients – that stand to profit from new advancements. Wider society could benefit as well.

TCS is currently patenting a new computer model which could not only completely change the way drugs are delivered into the body, but reduce the need for animal testing in the years ahead.

TCS’ new computer model, using a ‘digital skin’ to simulate ways in which drugs could be delivered, could go some way to solving these issues.

“Take the example of diabetes, if somebody has to take insulin, they have to inject it,” explains Beena Rai, Head of Physical Sciences Research at TCS.

“I can put in a new formulation – the combination of insulin with certain other chemicals or certain nanoparticles which will help insulin penetrate the skin – and test it against the digital skin to see if it works. In this way, the model helps us to design formulations.

“And then let’s say you are required to perform 100 experiments in order to have a particular drug reach the next clinical stage. With the digital model, you can test over 100,000 if you want. So, your search space has suddenly expanded 100 times, with very little cost,” adds Rai.

Testing using the digital skin is much more accurate – and also more likely to lead to successful products.

“The digital skin is much better than animal skin because animal skin is not the same as our skin. The animal models don’t replicate human behavior, which means that, quite often, your drug fails in later stage clinical trials. In fact, nine out of 10 drugs never come to market,” adds Rai.

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