To mark its 10th anniversary, Drug Discovery & Development magazine invited industry vendors to reflect on the history and made predictions about future of the industry. Featured here are verbatim comments from this company.
Thermo Fisher Scientific
Years in Drug Research
Marijn E. Dekkers, President and Chief Executive Officer
About the company
Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. (NYSE: TMO) is the world leader in serving science, with annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 34,000 employees worldwide. Our mission is to enable our customers to make the world healthier, cleaner and safer—whether they’re working in pharmaceutical and biotech companies, hospitals and clinical diagnostic labs, universities, research institutions and government agencies, or environmental and industrial process control settings. Serving customers through two premier brands, Thermo Scientific and Fisher Scientific, we help solve analytical challenges, from routine testing to complex research and discovery. Our Thermo Scientific brand offers customers a complete range of high-end analytical instruments as well as laboratory equipment, software, services, consumables and reagents to create integrated laboratory workflow solutions. Our Fisher Scientific brand provides a complete portfolio of laboratory equipment, chemicals, supplies and services through comprehensive catalogs and other channels.
The company’s line of business as it was 10 years ago. Changes in life science/drug research that influenced business.
Ten years ago we were focused primarily on sophisticated analytical instrumentation—mass spectrometry to molecular spectroscopy, we were “the leading analytical instruments company.” As time has passed, our customers have focused increasingly on ease of use and ease of doing business. They need to be able to do more experiments more quickly, without sacrificing quality, and would also rather buy from fewer suppliers. This is why we merged with Fisher to create Thermo Fisher Scientific. We now have the breadth of offerings to be able to create complete workflows for our customers’ specific applications—providing reagents, consumables and software that complement our analytical instrumentation. And we have continued to innovate as well to build on our leading analytical technology platforms. By combining our technological capabilities with our Fisher Scientific catalogs and other channels, we are able to give our customers greater access to a more extensive portfolio of products and services.
Scientific challenges in the next 10 years.
The ability to create integrated workflows is key. Scientists have increasingly less time to spend on this, and they’re looking to technology companies to play that role so they don’t have to spend their time developing the experiment—but rather are more focused on drawing conclusions from the results. At the same time, the workflows will involve more and more multiplexed analyses (e.g. DNA, RNA, proteins, metabolites) and this system biology complexity will need to be easily handled. In particular, the informatics challenges will be enormous, especially relative to translating research data into results and actionable information. The next level of complexity, seamless integration of systems biology research information with clinical diagnostics, drug therapy and patient outcome will also need to be tackled.
Factor(s) that drove the development of technologies during the last 10 years and greatest area of growths.
Researchers continue to demand technologies that are more sensitive, more accurate—yet lead to greater productivity. The future is all about designing integrated workflows to meet this need. We have been particularly active in leading the field of proteomics, especially with high resolution mass spectrometry. Investigators can now quantitatively analyze entire cellular proteomes—an astonishing achievement. As with new DNA whole genome sequencing methodologies, the future of this protein experiment is to complete entire analyses in hours instead of weeks to allow large increases in productivity with respect to the types of experiments that can be carried out and the depth of reliable information that can be obtained. For drug development, this could be a complete analysis of the global effect of the drug on gene and protein expression simultaneously, to monitor for putative toxicities, for example.
Bold Prediction: Where will drug research technology be in 10 years?
Technology will allow ineffective or toxic drugs to be weeded-out much earlier in the process, through both experimentation as well as in silico analysis, which will leverage the large human systems biology knowledge base accumulated. We will also have a vastly better understanding of how individuals will react to specific drug treatments based on their biological make-up, so there will be more opportunities to give patients access to drugs that may not be available today because they never made it through clinical trials. Personalized medicine, or the ability to tailor therapy, especially drug therapy, to a specific individual’s biology and needs, will have emerged as a reality for many of the more obvious disease states (diabetes; heart disease) which can be tackled with such an approach, while the potential for application to more complex diseases, particularly cancers, will be seen as a future reality.