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Speedel speeds up preclinical research

Preclinical research involves a wide range of systems, with myriad data sources feeding into the process. Integrating data from experiments is a key challenge, closely followed by delivering results in a way that meets the needs of different stakeholders, from laboratory scientists to senior business managers. With SAS, Speedel reduced file processing time from days to minutes, trimmed study review times from two or three weeks to a few days, and streamlined its reporting.

SAS reduces 'time to intelligence'
"Our business is about bringing new medicines to people, and SAS helps us optimize that process," says Dr. J. Chris Jensen, Director of Pharmacology at Speedel Experimenta Ltd. This Swiss-based biopharmaceutical company focuses on treatments for cardiovascular and metabolic disease, while a key aspect of its operations is partnerships with leading pharma companies, including Novartis and Roche. Speedel develops novel therapies through smart drug development from lead identification to the end of Phase II for major indications and through Phase III for specialist indications. Today, Speedel has a range of drugs in development, including potential "blockbusters."

Speedel Experimenta is a late-stage research unit with about 45 scientists and technicians in teams such as medicinal chemistry, biochemistry, biology and pharmacology. The company also uses external contract research facilities. Speedel receives data from all these sources, for example, chemical structures from the medicinal chemistry team and solubility data from the biochemistry team. In addition, laboratory instruments such as chromatographs are used and proprietary ISIS chemicals databases, Oracle, ASCII and Excel files. SAS data sets, as well as thousands of flat file lines from contractors and hard-copy reports, are also amassed. The key issue is the complexity of the different data types and formats.

Dr. Achim Wach photo
Dr. Achim Wach, Director of Biochemistry

"This is an iterative process, and while data volumes were increasing we still needed access to any point in our data, to move development forward or for a scientist to make changes to an experiment," says Dr. Achim Wach, Director of Biochemistry.

To make sense of its data, Speedel uses SAS technology to integrate and store data for analysis and results presentation. Dr. Wach says, "With just a couple of days' training, most people were able to start querying the data they needed." Bench scientists and managers can now view and extract valuable insights.

Speedel works with SAS BI Server to deliver even more value in preclinical research, with the ability to incorporate more data sources into a streamlined process. Results are presented as graphics or tables, short reports provide updates, and crucially, regulatory reports can be collated for authorities in Europe and the United States.

The time to process large flat ASCII files from external contactors, for display and analysis by the scientists, has been reduced from two or three days to about 20 minutes. Study review times have fallen from two or three weeks to a few days, with real-time results and timely review improving quality control.

"We achieved our goals of managing multiple data formats, ensuring high security, reducing duplication of effort, presenting study data in better ways and shortening review times," says Dr. Jensen. Speedel can now meet the needs of multiple stakeholders. For example, scientists can make visual comparisons quickly and have access to advanced analytical techniques, project teams can get an overview of compounds, and senior managers can view all projects at a high level.

"If you're working with hundreds of compounds and want to explore relationships between one compound and the next, it really helps to have a single data source," says Dr. Jensen. "We can see if we're going in the right direction. What our people really want is to analyse and make decisions based on the data, rather than spending time on collection and collation of the data."

Kishor Lad photo
Kishor Lad, Data Manager in Pharmacology

Kishor Lad, Data Manager in Pharmacology adds, "SAS is bringing data to the novice – people can get their hands on the data so easily. They don't need to dig around in a specific Oracle database or wherever. Extraction of data is intuitive and very easy; you don't need to be a database expert." 

"With lots of data coming in on an ongoing basis, we can provide results to scientists online and in real time," says Dr. Wach. "Within half an hour of the data arriving, they can see the results of a study up to that point, rather than having to wait until a study is complete to review all the data." This helps in quality control, enabling Speedel to identify and resolve any issues that arise in experiments or with particular laboratory equipment – while continuing to focus on compounds that show high potential.

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Dr. J. Chris Jensen

Director of Pharmacology

Speedel Experimenta

Challenge:
Speedel needed to combine complex preclinical data from multiple sources to enhance the productivity of laboratory scientists and managers and thus to speed up drug development
Solution:
SAS brings all sources together into a common format, providing easy access, querying and delivering reports in appropriate formats 
Benefits:
File processing time has been reduced from two or three days to about 20 minutes. Study review times have fallen from two or three weeks to a few days, with real-time results improving quality control 

We're scientists, not IT people. SAS is ideal because it empowers people very quickly. Right from the start, people could access the data they needed from various sources.

Dr. J. Chris Jensen

Director of Pharmacology


SAS provides easy access to information for all the stakeholders in the company - they can see the up-to-date picture. It's provided us with greater accuracy, reduced complexity and supports a more informed study review process.

Dr. Achim Wach

Director of Biochemistry


SAS is bringing data to the novice - people can get their hands on the data so easily.

Kishor Lad

Data Manager in Pharmacology

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