SD-WAN Benefits for High-Throughput Screening in Pharmaceutical Research


You’ve probably heard of Moore’s Law, about the doubling of the number of transistors on a microchip every two years, but do you know as much about Eroom’s Law? “Eroom” is “Moore” spelled backwards, suggesting a slowdown instead of an increase. It refers more specifically to the decreasing efficiency of the drug discovery process.

The drivers of Eroom’s Law are complex. There are the patent expirations that spur competition from generics, making it harder to recoup R&D investments that average $2.6 billion per approved substance. Plus, there’s the lack of proverbial low-hanging fruit to be picked (e.g., aspirin can only be discovered once). However, there are ongoing efforts to streamline discovery, starting with high-throughput screening (HTS) supported by state-of-the-art wide area networks (WANs).Under Eroom’s Law, the cost of isolating a new drug doubles every nine years. According to a paper from the Public Library of Science, the pharmaceutical industry saw a hundredfold increase in its research and development expenses between 1950 and 2010, even as many game-changing technologies (including the Internet) became available to it in that time.

How HTS Modernizes Specific Types of Pharmaceutical Research

The “high throughput” in HTS refers to the process of testing possibly thousands of chemical compounds weekly for their suitability as pharmaceuticals. While HTS is a well-established protocol already central to many research domains, it is still relatively new and growing quickly. MarketsandMarkets has projected a 7.8 percent compound annual growth rate for HTS from 2016 to 2021, when its value would exceed $18 billion.

As HTS expands, it will become a more important cog in the overall machinery of pharmaceutical R&D, alongside similar large-scale information processing technologies, such as data analytics as applied to cancer research databases. For example, a 2016 Wired article documented the efforts of one mathematician to comb through exabytes of data with help from machine learning algorithms to find patterns that might inform cancer drug production.

Why SD-WAN Innovation Could Boost the Efficiency of HTS

These innovations share more than just enormous scale; they also all depend upon flexible WAN architectures capable of delivering real-time performance and service assurance. More specifically, Vanderbilt’s high-level overview of its own HTS facility demonstrates the general need for highly reliable networking:

  • HTS-specific applications must interface with a variety of information management platforms.
  • They must also extract, upload and aggregate the results of thousands of regular HTS experiments.
  • The entire HTS system must be secure and regularly backed up.

Traditional hub-and-spoke WANs are not ideal for HTS or any other form of modern pharmaceutical research. They are static, not to mention expensive to deploy and maintain.

Software-defined WANS (SD-WANs) offer compelling alternatives. Capable of incorporating cost-effective commodity Internet links while also augmenting MPLS circuits, SD-WANs can intelligently supply elastic bandwidth while guaranteeing the most important HTS applications are routed over the best possible network paths, whether broadband or MPLS-based. Security integrations also protect data exchange.

With such SD-WAN benefits at their disposal, pharmaceutical researchers can ensure high throughput isn’t jeopardized by low reliability. Explore your SD-WAN solution options by requesting a demo from Talari Networks.