Keeping tabs on Covid-19: Blood gas digital solution, modular manufacturing facility for vaccines and free toolkit for data sharing

With pharmaceutical companies taking center stage in the fight against coronavirus, the industry is seeing bursts of innovation in digital solutions, vaccine developments and data sharing




As emerging drug therapies and clinical trials to battle the spread of Covid-19 are publicized daily, pharma companies are coming under increased scrutiny from public health officials and health practitioners in the hunt for a cure. With pharma companies also facing internal competitive pressures to discover a vaccine, this week’s round up from Pharma IQ delves into some of the most ground-breaking solutions that are looking to combat medical and supply chain stresses resulting from the effects of Covid-19.

Blood gas digital solution designed to improve patient care with respiratory symptoms

Roche has developed a new digital diagnostic solution called Roche v-TAC, which allows clinicians to obtain results for arterial blood gas values from patients with respiratory or metabolic abnormalities.

Roche v-TAC is intended to help and simplify the screening, diagnosis and monitoring of patients with respiratory compromise during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Typically, blood gas analysis is used in hospital point-of-care settings where quick and accurate results are needed. A traditional blood gas test requires the collection of an arterial blood sample, which can be a painful experience for the patient. The procedure is also usually carried out by medical doctors or specially-trained staff.

A statement from Roche outlined that the digital solution could be used by staff without specific training in drawing arterial blood samples, as the diagnostics program can digitally convert these values into atrial blood gas values, which can help free up specialist healthcare staff to other tasks.

Thomas Schinecker, CEO at Roche Diagnostics, said: “In an emergency situation such as the Covid-19 pandemic, Roche v-TAC could help healthcare professionals assess disease severity faster in patients and closely monitor potential deterioration in patients with respiratory compromise.

“Digital tools based on clinical algorithms like Roche v-TAC can help improve and simplify delivery of care in emergency situations faster and where it is most needed.”

Exyte and Univercells partner on modular vaccine facility

Exyte, a construction engineering company, and Univercells Technologies, a provider of biomanufacturing technologies, have partnered to construct modular manufacturing facilities for vaccines.

The companies have partnered in response to the increased global demand for vaccines during the Covid-19 pandemic, which will require expedited delivery of large amounts of vaccine doses once a formulation is approved. Univercells Technologies claim, the rapid deployment of prefabricated plants will enable rapid mass production and shortened time-to-market for vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 and other diseases.

In a joint press release, the companies declared this partnership will create an integrated plant design, which combines Exyte’s prefabricated modular construction system and Univercells Technologies’ NevoLine biomanufacturing platform featuring the scale-X fixed-bed bioreactor at its core. Vaccine developers and biopharmaceutical manufacturers will be able to benefit from the integrated, modular concept.

The new modular design aims to help reduce operational expenditures by commissioning good manufacturing practice-complaint vaccine plants with prefabricated solutions that deliver high manufacturing capacity within a very low footprint.

The companies also claim, the solution is equally suitable for building new facilities, as well as converting existing facilities. With pre-selected process equipment, the modular plant concept can enable scalability for rapid capacity and aid in the promotion of vaccines available for global immunization campaigns. 

Toolkit launched to improve data management and data sharing during the Covid-19 crisis

The Pistoia Alliance, a global life sciences non-profit, has launched a freely accessible toolkit to help pharma companies implement findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) data guiding principles.

In a statement, the non-profit organization said: “The drive to implement FAIR comes at a time when the industry is undergoing significant digitization and generating enormous data volumes. Many firms are in need of guidance around how data should be captured and managed, and one key aspect of FAIR is making this data shareable to aid innovation.

“At the same time, given the amount of research currently being undertaken around Covid-19, there is an urgent need for data to be shareable and interoperable, to accelerate the search for a vaccine. So, standards such as FAIR will help in these efforts now, as well as in future research and development projects.”

Ian Harrow, PhD, Consultant at The Pistoia Alliance, commented: “Since we launched the project, we have had tremendous interest from global pharma as well SMEs, demonstrating just how important a resource like this is for the entire life science industry.

“The FAIR toolkit will enable organizations to realize the value of their data, accomplish effective data management, and build a more collaborative research environment.”

For more digital solutions in pharma, read our latest blog written by Dennis Della Corte, Vice-President of Business Development at ZONTAL, on how stakeholder interests can lead to a data-driven business. Dive into the challenges faced by laboratory heads, quality control managers, regulatory affairs representatives and collaboration managers to gain insight into the fundamental steps to successfully create a digital business in pharma.

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