AstraZeneca bolsters software systems for virtual R&D of neuroscience drugs

AstraZeneca ($AZN) has beefed up its lineup of software vendors for its virtual neuroscience group. A provider of clinical trials software, ePharmaSolutions plans to support AZ's neuroscience group with study apps and cloud computing.

Set up early last year, London-based AstraZeneca's Neuroscience Innovative Medicines Unit (NS iMed) has stretched the boundaries of the virtual model in pharma with the help of software and cloud computing. With only 40 core staffers, the neuroscience iMed relies on external CROs, academic investigators and software companies to manage a portfolio of drug discovery and development programs.

AstraZeneca opted for the virtual effort rather than pull the plug on risky neuroscience programs, which lost staff support through a reorganization that came at the cost of 1,800 research jobs and sites in Södertälje, Sweden, and Montreal, Canada. The pharma giant has endured punishment from its neuroscience pipeline, including the failures of late-stage trials last year for an antidepressant from its partner Targacept ($TRGT).

Based in Philadelphia, ePharmaSolutions has joined a cast of software partners such as Deloitte, Assay Depot and Knode that have provided various types of support to the virtual model AstraZeneca has adopted for neuroscience drug R&D. AstraZeneca has tapped ePharmaSolutions for an integrated clinical trial portal, secure document sharing and other tools.

"A key strategy for our business is crafted around relationship building and leveraging innovative solutions for data sharing with collaborators," stated Steven Leventer, vice president of AstraZeneca's NS iMed. "The capabilities brought to the table by ePharmaSolutions are aimed at enabling the AZ NS iMed to ramp up our clinical trial sites more quickly and efficiently."

The neuroscience iMed will have to soldier on without one of its key technology architects, John Reynders, a 2013 FierceBiotech Techie. Last month Reynders, AstraZeneca's vice president of R&D information, announced his plans to leave for a job with one of AZ's biotech partners, Moderna Therapeutics.

- here's ePharmaSolutions' release
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