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Roche looks to further expand its digital portfolio

The Basel-based pharmaceutical company Roche has already invested heavily in digital diagnostics – and it will continue to do so, said Roche’s head of diagnostics, Roland Diggelmann.

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Image Credit: Roche

Thanks to advances in cancer research, it is now possible to decode numerous genes that influence the formation of tumours. This is resulting in large amounts of data, which requires the right technologies and tools to analyse them.

“Roche is well positioned in this respect because we have pharmaceuticals and diagnostics under one roof,” said Roland Diggelmann, head of diagnostics at Roche, in an interview with the Aargauer Zeitung.

Last year, the Basel-based pharmaceutical company set up a department with 100 employees who are now developing digital software solutions.

“They help us find and process relevant gene data. There are also apps for when a patient is first diagnosed that provide information from medical literature or places where suitable clinical studies are underway,” explained Diggelmann.

But artificial intelligence is not meant to replace humans. Digital tools are rather an "interpretation aid", which could help, for example, in tissue diagnostics by helping to facilitate findings.

Although billions have already been invested, Diggelmann sees this as only “the beginning of a development” – and one which Roche should continue on. “Investments will increase in the next few years along with new technological possibilities. We see major opportunities here.”

For example, the company aims to achieve a new standard in gene sequencing. “The gene data obtained no longer comes unfiltered from the sequencing device, but is rather directly assessed digitally through an integrated software. This makes the application more precise, more affordable and more rapid.”

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