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How Quantum Computing Benefits Life Sciences: Omdia

Simulation could make the drug discovery process less costly, time-consuming and risky

Berenice Baker

October 3, 2023

2 Min Read
A researcher overlooks a robot arm filling test tubes.
The Omdia report found quantum computing could benefit the drug discovery process. Getty

Quantum computing technology could fundamentally transform the pharmaceutical industry’s drug discovery process, according to a new report from research organization Omdia.

The “Quantum Computing in the Life Sciences – 2023” report found that, while quantum computing is still at a pre-commercial stage, most large pharmaceutical companies are taking steps to explore its potential for the industry.

According to the report’s authors, chief quantum computing analyst Sam Lucero and AI applications in life science principal analyst Andrew Brosnan, the life sciences industry faces a long, expensive process to bring new pharmaceuticals to market.

The traditional drug development process involves many steps, starting with disease hypothesis, target discovery and target protein characterization. This is followed by cutting down a starting library of potential drug candidates, which could be in the millions, down to a shortlist of 5,000 to 10,000 “hits” that warrant further investigation. 

Hopefully, at least one of these leads can be brought forward through sequentially larger clinical trials. If successful through all these steps, the vendor can apply for regulatory approval and, if successful regulatory, launch the drug to the market.

There is a strong possibility that quantum computing technology will fundamentally transform the pharmaceutical industry’s drug discovery process. However, the full effects of this transformation may only start to show towards the end of this decade if the physical simulation of molecules on a large-scale, fault-tolerant quantum computing technology becomes possible. In the near term, quantum computing-enabled combinatorial optimization and quantum machine learning may enhance the hit discovery to lead optimization stages of drug discovery.

Related:Physical Simulation Tops Quantum Commercial Opportunities: Omdia

Most large pharmaceutical companies are taking steps to explore the potential of quantum computing technology in the life sciences, often as an insurance policy, to prepare for the possibility that the industry is fundamentally transformed. During this pre-competitive stage of quantum computing adoption, intense collaboration and partnering are underway within the life sciences industry and with the quantum computing vendor community.

Access the full report here.

About the Author(s)

Berenice Baker

Editor, Enter Quantum

Berenice is the editor of Enter Quantum, the companion website and exclusive content outlet for The Quantum Computing Summit. Enter Quantum informs quantum computing decision-makers and solutions creators with timely information, business applications and best practice to enable them to adopt the most effective quantum computing solution for their businesses. Berenice has a background in IT and 16 years’ experience as a technology journalist.

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