Searching for the right words

Searching for the right words

Text mining tools enable research scientists to scan huge volumes of drug data. Sandeep Moudgal profiles this technology


Shome Natha Mitra, Chief Scientific Officer, Brainwave solutions

Information Technology has become an integral part of any and every industry today. The pharma industry is no exception. From the stage of formulation to manufacturing and logistical support, IT involvement has increased over the years. ERP solutions are a prerequisite for any manufacturing unit in this industry.

Perhaps the most important stage of any drug manufacturing is at its formulation level. With genomic, computational chemistry and computational biology (still in its infancy in India) playing a vital role in drug manufacturing, the role of IT has increased manifold for the Indian pharmaceutical industry.

Looking for a needle in the haystack

A recent venture in producing solutions, Brainwave Biosolutions provides various services to pharma manufacturers in speeding up drug formulations and manufacturing. “The industry demands, going by reports, will touch nearly $36 million, for text mining solutions alone,” says Shome Nath Mitra, Chief Scientific Officer, Brainwave.

“Each scientist has his own questions while working on a certain drug formulation,” says Mitra on the potential of their text mining solution, ‘Gene Minerva’. “We put the scientist at the helm and get the required inputs according to his queries,” he adds. Developed on natural language processing (NLP), it is for the convenience of scientists in reducing the time consuming efforts of going through thousands of previous scholarly papers.

When formulating a new drug, the biggest challenge faced by the scientists is going through the millions of words that have been put down on paper previously by experts. Text-mining solutions are meant for these challenges. It provides the scientists with the exact phrase or compound, for which the scientists are searching texts from various journals and their own database.

Studying those papers and extracting the exact phrase pertinent to the scientist is a time consuming exercise. It is claimed that with the help of the text mining solutions, a scientist can achieve nearly 90 percent accuracy on the false positive information (where the information derived is filtered to the point of actual requirement) retrieved for the scientist in the database and cut down on the time to almost one-fourth of the manual work that was prevalent in the early days of the pharma industry.

“The previous industry mentality towards external software assistance for their formulations as being an overhead cost has changed,” says Mitra. Brainwave Biosolutions has today been approached by one of the leading medical journals to provide them with a solution to have an electronic version of its papers that can be used by scientists in the future.

Although, there seems to be no or little usage of the text mining solutions in India, it is a technology that is sure to catch on as more Indian pharma companies, research institutes and universities start looking at offering drug related studies as a viable revenue stream.

editorial.ep@expressindia.com