AstraZeneca and Microsoft to develop ‘drag and drop’ cancer simulation

pharmafile | September 21, 2016 | News story | Medical Communications, Research and Development AstraZeneca, Digital Pharma Guide, Microsoft 

AstraZeneca has entered into a partnership with tech giant Microsoft to develop a new computerised modelling system which promises to enable scientists to streamline their work and conduct experiments at much higher volume and speed.

BioModel Analyzer, the new cloud-based system, comprises a ‘drag and drop’ interface and models millions of key signalling pathways in cancer cells and the two companies believe it will reduce the need for ‘wet’ lab experiments and speed the industry on the pathway to truly personalised medicine.

Scientists utilising the system can manipulate cells, genes and proteins in a simple, easy-to-use manner, and draw signalling pathways which can potentially change and cause cancer cells to uncontrollably multiply, and anticipate how drugs can block these pathways at different steps and affect the process, with computers performing all the taxing calculations.

“We model the way many different proteins interact and we simulate experiments that we previously did in the lab,” explained AstraZeneca’s Jonathan Dry. “We ‘test’ the likely effects of our drugs at different places on the pathway and identify the most promising places to intervene.”

The system’s initial focus will be on acute myeloid leukaemia, with further applications to follow.

“The Microsoft system captures the way that the biologist thinks about the pathway instead of trying to fully mathematically model it, and that suits the way we work,” Dry added. “The beauty of computerised modelling is that you remove the current limitation on the number of hypotheses you can investigate and the potential for human bias.”

Matt Fellows

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