Wednesday, 20 Jun 2018

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Big pharma turns to artificial intelligence to speed drug discovery

No icon Pharmaceuticals

Health Desk—July 05, 2017: The world's leading pharmaceutical companies are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the hit-and-miss business of finding new medicines, with GlaxoSmithKline unveiling a new $43 million deal in the field on Sunday. 

Aiming to help streamline the drug discovery process, the other pharmaceutical giants like--Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi --are also exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI).

The purpose is to harness modern supercomputers and machine learning systems to predict how molecules will behave and how likely they are to make a useful drug, thereby saving time and money on unnecessary tests.

AI systems already play a central role in other high-tech areas such as the development of driverless cars and facial recognition software.

Chief executive of privately owned Exscientia Andrew Hopkins said, "Many large pharma companies are starting to realise the potential of this approach and how it can help improve efficiencies".

Hopkins, who used to work at Pfizer, said Exscientia's AI system could deliver drug candidates in roughly one-quarter of the time and at one-quarter of the cost of traditional approaches.

The Scotland-based company, which also signed a deal with Sanofi in May, is one of a growing number of start-ups on both sides of the Atlantic that are applying AI to drug research. Others include US firms Berg, Numerate, twoXAR and Atomwise, as well as Britain's BenevolentAI.