Pharmaceutical companies are turning to AI to streamline drug discovery process

Shawn Knight

Posts: 12,593   +124
Staff member

British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is turning to artificial intelligence to help streamline the drug discovery process.

GSK over the weekend announced a partnership with Exscientia, a fellow British company that specializes in drug design. The joint effort will see Exscientia utilize its AI-enabled platform in hopes of discovering novel, high-quality drug candidate-quality molecules.

GSK is asking Exscientia to work on 10 specific disease-related targets. If all goals are met, GSK will fork over nearly $43 million in research payments.

The idea here is to use the power of supercomputers and machine learning to model how new compounds will behave. Expediting this process versus having human researchers do it in the lab could save loads of time and money.

Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia, said his company’s approach to discovery projects has already delivered potential treatments for other clients in one-quarter of the time and at one-quarter the cost versus traditional approaches.

It’s not just about time and money, either, as getting a new medicine to market could potentially save lives that might otherwise be lost to diseases that aren’t yet treatable.

GSK isn’t the only major pharma company exploring the potential of artificial intelligence in the hunt for new medicine. Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi have all recently turned to technology to identify new compounds according to Reuters.

Lead image courtesy Toby Melville, Reuters

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Posts: 43   +19
If they can do it at a quarter of the cost then they don't have a leg to stand on when pricing the drugs at such a substantial cost.
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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,483   +5,990
If they employ the IBM Watson as their base AI it could be very successful, but from what I have heard, linking into Watson isn't cheap and it could negate the savings of going to AI.

Raoul Duke

GSK spent 1.265 billion British pounds in 2016 on advertising, so $43 million (presumably USD) is nothing. Of course they only have to spend that "If all goals are met".
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