Tag Archives: Healthcare

Deep Learning in Drug Discovery & Companies That Provide It

This article is brought to you by Congress Bookers, a reliable accommodation partner for lead pharma companies worldwide.

In order to better understand the meaning of deep learning, we first need to take a look at big data.


Big Data

New technologies such as the internet of things (IoT) and genomics generate huge data sets in a completely unstructured manner which are referred to as big data. These data sets are so large and so complex that they can’t be analysed using traditional apps and software. Therefore, new applications emerge. One of the biggest players in the field is Palantir Technologies, a company which helps make sense of all this big data. While storing this data is one thing, analyzing it is something completely different and it takes us to the concept of deep learning.


Deep Learning

Deep learning involves teaching a computer to make sense of all the unstructured big data using various methods like “artificial neural networks” which mimic the way the human brain works. What it does is use algorithms to search for complex relationships in all that “big data.”Those algorithms are constantly refined and improved.

Cognitive computing refers to a computer’s ability to learn more over time based on experience, much like the human brain does. You’ve probably read some articles on IBM’s Watson cognitive computing platform that uses deep learning for translation, speech-to-text, and text-to-speech. Deep learning or cognitive computing is a form of artificial intelligence.

Deep Learning & Drug Discovery

As explained so far, deep learning is a way to analyse big data and find relationships within huge data sets that would take years and years for humans to discover and process on their own.

If we see this in the context of the drug discovery industry, many years of research are needed to identify a drug compound that might be effective in combating a disease prior to seeking FDA approval. The FDA approval process is actually more like the cherry on top, it comes after huge research and extended trials. All this translates into billions spent by the pharmaceutical industry

on R&D with the aim of discovering compounds that treat specific diseases. Unfortunately, the path is long and rocky leading to only a fraction of all that research translated into commercial drugs.

Deep learning could make things faster and much more efficient by analysing a wide spectrum of already effective molecular compounds and use the findings to develop new drugs to combat diseases.

Some companies have turned to deep learning in an attempt to shorten the drug discovery cycle by building platforms that enable the discovery of new drug compounds, while predicting their likely success.



Founded in 2012, US-based deep learning company Atomwise is the creator of AtomNet, the first deep learning technology for novel small molecule discovery, characterized by its unprecedented speed, accuracy, and diversity. The company has worked with companies like Merck and has been involved in Ebola treatment research.


Insilico Medicine

Founded in 2014, Insilico Medicine raised USD 10M in a venture round in February 2017. The company is dedicated to finding novel solutions for cancer, aging and age-related diseases using advances in genomics and big data analysis. They provide services like advanced deep learning, custom drug and biomarkers discovery, aging research tools to academia, pharma and cosmetics companies.


Berg Health

Berg Health is a Boston-based biopharma company founded in 2006. They use their “Berg Interrogative Biology™ discovery platform” to reduce the time, and expense, of drug development. Berg focuses on three distinct areas: diagnostics, pharmaceutical research and development and health care analytics.



Founded in 2014, twoXAR is “an artificial intelligence-driven drug discovery company.” Using its computational platform, twoXAR identifies promising drug candidates, lowers risks through preclinical studies, and progresses drug candidates to the clinic through industry and investor partnerships. Their DUMA Drug Discovery platform evaluates enormous datasets to identify and rank high probability drug-disease matches in minutes rather than years.

Using deep learning for drug discovery is still in its early stages but it definitely shows great promise. By teaching a computer how to learn, relationships between vast data sets are uncovered thus helping scientists and researchers learn more about how to treat diseases whether they’re new or have been around for decades.


Congress Bookers provides a whole range of services needed to organize a group for a medical congress. On our website, you will find a full list of hotel allotments for the most important medical congresses in 2017, regardless of their location. The biggest congresses next year are:

5 Things to Do in Lisbon During EASD 2017

The 53rd Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes (EASD) will take place in Lisbon, Portugal, between 11-15 September 2017.

Scientists, physicians, laboratory workers, nurses and students from all over the world will be attending this event to learn more and stay on top of the latest developments and innovations regarding diabetes, metabolism and related subjects.

Besides networking opportunities, attendees will have the chance to address the most applicable problems and solutions related to the diagnosis, treatment, and management of diabetes.

For those of you attending EASD 2017, we’ve compiled a list of 5 things to do while in the beautiful city of Lisbon.


Visit Jerónimos Monastery


Situated near the Tagus river in the parish of Belém, Jerónimos Monastery was founded in 1501 and is a monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome.

The monastery stands as a magnificent example of the Manueline style of architecture. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Manueline architecture is unique to Portugal and combines Flamboyant Gothic, Moorish, and early Renaissance influences. Sculptural detail and maritime motifs are oftentimes being used and are considered characteristic elements of this type of architecture. Other Manueline architecture structures in Portugal include Batalha Monastery and the Templar Convento de Cristo in Tomar.

At Jerónimos Monastery, visitors can see the tombs of King Manuel and other figures who played an important part in Portuguese history, such as Vasco de Gama, the romantic poet Herculano and the poet Fernando Pessoa.


Take a walk and drink coffee on the Rossio Square


This is one of the most beautiful places to see in Lisbon. Rossio Square is the popular name of the Pedro IV Square and it’s located in the Pombaline Downtown of Lisbon. It has been the city’s most popular square since the Middle Ages. What used to be the place for popular riots and celebrations, bullfights and executions, is now a preferred meeting place for both locals and tourists alike.

One of Rossio Square’s top attractions is the bronze statue of Dom Pedro IV, a former king of Portugal and the first emperor of Brasil.

On the opposite sides of Rossio Square are two baroque-style fountains, while at the northern part of the square, visitors can see and explore the Dona Maria II National Theater.


Admire the Belém Palace


The Belém Palace is located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém, on a small hill that fronts the Praça Afonso de Albuquerque, near the historical centre of Belém and the Monastery of the Jeronimos. With its five buildings dating back to the second half of the 17th century,

the palace has been the official residence of Portuguese monarchs and, after the installation of the First Republic, the Presidents of the Portuguese Republic.

Discover the city on a bike


Fun Track is a large open space on the Passeio Marítimo de Alcântara, behind the Museu do Oriente where you can rent karts, bicycles, or roller skates to travel on the 7km of cycle path that runs along the river between Belém and Cais do Sodré.

Get your legs moving and lift your tourist spirit high!


Admire the view from the 25th April Bridge


Seen as the twin sister of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the 25th April Bridge stretches across the estuary at the Tagus River in Lisbon. It was built in 1996 and it currently represents the largest suspension bridge in Europe and the 20th longest in the world.

The bridge is approximately 2.3 km long and stands over 70 metres above the water. It will give any visitor a breathtaking view of the city of Lisbon!


These were our top five picks when it comes to things you could do and see in Lisbon during EASD. That being said, book your accommodation for EASD 2017 today and start working on planning your trip.

Our offer comprises the following 4-star hotels:

  • NH Collection Lisboa Liberdade
  • VIP Executive Diplomatico Hotel
  • VIP Executive Villa Rica Hotel
  • Tivoli Oriente Hotel
  • My Story Hotel Ouro
  • Neya Hotel
  • Hotel Florida


Could Chatbots Be the Future of Healthcare?

Over the past few years we’ve seen more and more companies invest in mHealth sensors and applications in an attempt to boost medication adherence, enable self-reporting of symptoms and telemedicine consults, etc. While some studies show that there is promise in mHealth apps, others don’t see them as a disruptor for the healthcare industry, which would make the scalability of such technologies very slow.

Smart phones and medical icons

So what’s the underlying cause for the low to mediocre performance of mHealth apps?

Most probably, the answer lies in the lack of a truly engaging user experience. Imagine using an app for health purposes: you first need to install it, then remember to open it daily, fact that will definitely not be entertaining but rather sad given that it will remind you of your illness.

Since nowadays nearly everyone uses mobile messaging apps to communicate with friends and family, it’s becoming obvious that interacting with users directly inside of those messaging apps is much more effective as opposed to asking them to use standalone apps.

This is where chatbots enter the healthcare scene.


From Plain Robots to Doctors in Your Pocket

The doctor-patient relationship is more or less the same as it was 2000 years ago. The technology is much more advances but the process is the same. Patients feel sick, go to the hospital, explain how they’re feeling or where it hurts. Doctors check vitals, ask several questions, offer a diagnosis, and write a prescription.

The nasty part is when doctors are extremely busy and patients become impatient. They search on the internet, read forums, diagnose themselves and oftentimes end up taking the wrong medications. Of course, not all symptoms require an immediate visit to the doctor but it would be good to know when they do and when they don’t.

Using robots to diagnose patients is not as new an idea as you may think. ELIZA, was the world’s first chatbot and it was created 50 years ago with the purpose of being a Rogerian psychotherapist who can chat with patients by reflecting on what they said.

More recently, ProjectRED developed a robotic nurse called Louise, who can talk to patients to go over their medications and home care items when they get discharged from the hospital.

However, if it weren’t for the recent advances in AI, these chatbots would feel more like robots and would face the fate that standalone mHealth apps have had to face.

With artificial intelligence, almost unbelievable scenarios become possible. Imagine your smartphone rings and it’s a chatbot asking you if you still have that soar throat from yesterday and if you’d like to book a doctor’s appointment for the coming day.

Healthcare may see the greatest transformation of all the fields that artificial intelligence will disrupt in the coming years. Its influence on the industry will be broad and deep. Thanks to advanced image-recognition algorithms, diseases can be detected at an incredible speed and accuracy.


Chatbots that Have Already Prompted Big Healthcare Changes

Several companies have already begun using chatbots to redefine the role of the doctor and reposition the patient in relation to his/ her own health.

London-based digital health startups Your.MD and Babylon Health are fixing healthcare systems by cutting down on unnecessary doctor visits. Your.MD’s AI-powered chatbot engages patients just like a physician. The chatbot (your personal health assistant) uses machine-learning algorithms and natural-language processing to understand and engage its users.

MedWhat is another AI-powered medical assistant that can answer questions, such as drug side effects, in a chat format.

Chinese search engine Baidu launched “Melody”, a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence with the aim of helping patients determine whether or not they should see a doctor in person.

Melody integrates with the Baidu Doctor app, it asks the patient preliminary questions and pulls data from digitized textbooks, research papers, online forums and other healthcare sources.

With HealthTap’s bot, users can type a question into Facebook Messenger and receive replies from doctors. Users are also able to see responses from doctors to questions that are similar to their own.

Since we’re pretty sure that this is only the beginning, we expect to see a lot more activity from companies in the healthcare space and not only in the following months. Chatbots won’t replace doctors but they can improve the system, boost medication adherence and contribute to a better health.

Interested in finding out more about pharma, healthcare and tech? Book your accommodation in time for the following events in 2017:

4 Emerging Trends and Innovations in Pharma & Healthcare

As Steve Jobs said, “the biggest innovations of the 21st century will be at the intersection of biology and technology.” As these two become closely intertwined, innovative digital technologies emerge.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the greatest trends and innovations that are shaping and pushing forward pharma endeavours and digital health.


Healthcare Chatbots

Given that there’s over one billion people using Facebook Messenger, chatbots built on this platform are an ideal solution that could significantly improve patients’ health as well as the communication with their doctors.

Medication adherence

According to a World Health Organization report,“adherence to long-term therapy for chronic illnesses in developed countries averages 50%” and “removing barriers to adherence must become a central component of efforts to improve population health worldwide.”

While apps may be one answer, they require installation and a change of context every time a user needs them. On the other hand, chatbots are extremely easy to use. Patients could scan a profile code from Messenger and immediately start talking to an adherence bot, without the need to reveal their identity or set up a separate account. Consequently, the bot would help the patient add their first medication, give details about the amounts he needs to take and the times. Then, the bot will send friendly reminders at the times they specified. All of this process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

Patient information

Bots could also collect patient information – symptoms, pain level, mood information, blood sugar levels- that could be discussed with the healthcare provider. The latter could request a full report from the bot prior to the patient’s appointment so that nothing is forgotten or overlooked.

As an example, there is Stuzo’s Labs Adherence Bot. Although it’s merely a prototype, the bot already has high chances of being successful.

Recently, Chinese search engine Baidu has launched a medical chatbot dubbed Melody designed to make diagnosing illnesses easier.

mHealth Sensors

Also knows as “beyond the pill” services, apps and wearables allow patients to monitor their health and symptoms outside of clinical environments, fact that will prove important when it comes to freeing hospital beds and increasing doctors’ availability.

In September 2015, the FDA accepted the first New Drug Application for a ‘digital’ medicine – the anti-psychotic drug Abilify had an ingestible sensor attached to monitor patient adherence. Such collaborations between pharma and tech are expected to boom within the next years.

Furthermore, pharma research institutes are leveraging mHealth technology to carry out clinical research. In that sense, smartphones with advanced sensors that can track movement, take measurements and record information are used to conduct studies that engage large numbers of people from wide geographical areas. Apple has several mHealth apps for clinical research, some are targeting Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, while others focus on asthma and breast cancer.

Other devices such a smartwatches like Apple Watch or Samsung Gear and fitness bands (FitBit, Jawbone, Garmin) also have sensors capable of taking biometric readings. As they become more advanced, wearable devices will become a key asset in gathering clinical trial data remotely in real-time.

The fact that these devices are connected to the internet means that the information they gather can be synced with other devices or shared with doctors and researchers. This could mean that in the future, fewer patients will need to personally go to medical research centres or hospitals when participating in clinical trials, which could prompt a shift for pharma companies and CROs towards remote monitoring, as opposed to in-person meetings.

3D Printing

In March 2016, epilepsy drug Spritam became the first 3D printed drug to be approved by the FDA. The pill is manufactured by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals by spreading layers of the drug and building the pill through a three-dimensional printing process. The latter enables the use of a higher dose of medicine while keeping the pill porous enough to dissolve quickly.

Researchers at the School of Pharmacy of University College London are using a technique called “hot melt extrusion” to 3D-print pills in various shapes, spanning from pyramids to doughnuts. The form of the pill influences the rate of drug release. For example, a pyramid-shaped pill releases the drug slower than a cube or sphere and this enables absorption to be controlled.

3D printed drugs are not only set to change the way in which drugs are being manufactured, but also how they are administered. Hospitals could easily adjust doses depending on individual patients and their treatment.

Artificial Intelligence

Cognitive computing platforms such as IBM Watson have the capabilities to interact in natural language, process vast amounts of Big Data and understand patterns and insights while learning from each interaction. The Watson Health Cloud was launched in April 2015 as an open development platform for physicians, researchers, insurers, and companies.

By digesting and interpreting millions of pages of scientific literature, IBM Watson can assist pharma companies in the development of new drugs while repurposing existing ones. Johnson & Johnson is collaborating with the IBM Watson Discovery Advisor team to use Watson to develop and evaluate medications and other treatments, while Sanofi is looking into the discovery of alternative use cases for existing drugs (drug re-purposing).

These are only a few of the amazing trends and innovations that promise to influence not only the ways in which pharma companies and healthcare providers conduct their daily research and clinical trials but also the ways in which patients from all over the world cope with illnesses and follow treatment schemes. The future promises much more!

If you’re passionate about emerging trends and innovations in pharma and healthcare, these congresses should be on your list in 2017:

  1. ESMO 2017 Madrid, 8.- 12. September, 2017 -> http://bit.ly/2eIoDxQ
  2. ERS 2017 Milano, 9.- 13. September, 2017 -> http://bit.ly/2dh3f40
  3. EASD 2017 Lisbon, 11. – 15. September, 2017 -> http://bit.ly/2dZ4sgI