Service Provider Cloud

AI Coming to Big Pharma

The rush to discover new, life-saving medications is a big, risky business, and one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, along with an artificial intelligence startup, are betting that AI can help speed up that process while reducing some of the guess work.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has signed a £33 million ($43 million) deal with Exscientia, a Scottish startup specializing in AI, to determine if the technology can cut down some of the uncertainty and risk in developing new medicines.

This is the second big pharma deal that Exscientia has signed. The agreement with GSK will allow Exscientia to apply its AI platform to ten different diseases to determine if the technology can help lead the way to developing new drugs.

"The alliance provides further validation of our AI-driven platform and its potential to accelerate the discovery of novel, high-quality drug candidates," Andrew Hopkins, the CEO of Exscientia, wrote in a June 2 statement. "Applying our approach to client discovery projects has already delivered candidate-quality molecules in roughly one-quarter of the time, and at one-quarter of the cost of traditional approaches. Our intention therefore is to apply these capabilities to projects selected by GSK."

While AI, along with machine learning, has found its way into other technologies ranging from cybersecurity to automation to connected cars, the pharmaceutical industry is increasingly interested in how these technologies can reduce the amount of time it takes to research and then manufacture new drugs.

Big AI 
(Source: Stevepb via Pixabay)
Big AI
(Source: Stevepb via Pixabay)

In addition to GSK, Johnson and Johnson, Merck and other big pharma companies are exploring using AI in their research, according to Reuters.

In the case of Exscientia and GSK, the goal is to see how molecules react to different compounds and then use that research to develop new drugs. The AI part should "reduce the number of compounds required for synthesis and assay in order to achieve lead and candidate compound goals," according to the statement.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of several types of enterprises that plan to adopt AI and machine learning over the next several years. A recent report from ABI Research found that about 7,000 businesses are using AI this year, and that's expected to increase to 900,000 companies by 2022 -- a compound annual growth rate of 162%.

M&A activity is turning the cloud upside down. Find out what you need to know in our special report: Mergers, Acquisitions & IPOs Are Rocking the Cloud.

"Increasingly, businesses are applying these technological advancements to deliver automation and innovation that equal or exceed human capabilities," according to ABI.

AI and machine learning are increasingly invading all aspects of scientific research. In Japan, researchers are looking to build the world's fastest supercomputer specifically to look closer at AI and machine learning. (See US Energy Department Aims for Exascale.)

Related posts:

— Scott Ferguson, Editor, Enterprise Cloud News. Follow him on Twitter @sferguson_LR.

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Susan Fourtané 9/15/2017 | 9:39:35 AM
Re: The 2020s Kq4ym — Exactly. A change in lifestyle and eating habits can dramatically improve one’s health. You mention overeating. That’s one of the main problems. I particulary dislike those ”all you can eat” places because they promote overeating, which is really unhealthy. Besides, those places are usually fast food places, which is worse. It’s one’s responsibility to watch the quality and quantity of what we eat. No AI will do that for us. Regular exercise is a good habit that now is being pushed by all the fitness applications, which are doing a great job in bringing exercise to everyone’s life. But again, it’s up to you if you want to exercise, or not. :)
kq4ym 9/15/2017 | 9:04:40 AM
Re: The 2020s Our lifestyle choice are certainly contributing to the widespread overweight and obesity crisis all over the world. I wonder if some clever AI might not only contribute to new drugs and treatments but to an educational push to change our overeating habits and sedentary lifestyles. So far, nothing seems to be working well in that arena.
Susan Fourtané 8/21/2017 | 5:15:10 AM
Re: The 2020s PhilBritt — The sedentary lifestyle is generational, I think. I think this is changing with younger generations and also thanks to wearables and fitness apps that encourage exercising more and healthy eating. If you want to do more exercise you should check and download a couple of fitness/running/walking apps. But yes, it’s true that the chosen lifestyle impacts life expectancy. There is much predicted in terms of longevity that is supported by pharma companies and AI. Eating habits are also changing in younger generations. There is a vegetarian tendency, at least in Europe, and quite a few startups offering alternatives to fast food, which I think is great. So people are becoming more conscious, which will help to achieve human longevity.
Phil_Britt 7/17/2017 | 10:27:01 AM
Re: The 2020s Young deaths can certainly skew statistics. The challenge for the next several years will be the sedentary lifestyle and semi-sedentary lifestyle killing people. I remember by grandfather still mowing his lawn with a self powered mower (powered by oneself, not gas or electric) into his 80s. Though he used a gas mower, a neighbor similarly mowed and shoveled (not a snowblower) into his 80s. Though I use a snowblower and my kids usually do the mowing, I walk most places within a couple of miles. But many people today get extremely little exercise, which will keep average life expectancy, at least in the U.S., from going up much.
kq4ym 7/11/2017 | 11:49:40 AM
Re: The 2020s Yes, anyone doing family history will note that their ancestors in many cases had a long life. The averages were cut down dramatically though because children didn't often live long due to disease and accidents in earlier times where the benefits of modern surgery and medicine were not yet in use.
Susan Fourtané 7/7/2017 | 3:43:19 AM
Re: The 2020s "In the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, Life Expectancy at Birth (LEB) was 26 years; the 2010 world LEB was 67.2 years. For recent years, in Swaziland LEB is about 49, and in Japan, it is about 83." "An analysis published in 2011 in The Lancet attributes Japanese life expectancy to equal opportunities and public health as well as diet." This is one reason I am very interested in the Japanese diet and have adopted several of the products they regularly consume, such as miso soup, seaweed, and macha green tea powder to my daily diet. Because we can help our life expectancy is important to observe a healthy diet and regular exercise as well as avoiding things that shorten your life expectancy such as tabacco, alcohol, and animal fats among others. If you do your homework along your life your life expectancy increases. In terms of dead thretening disease such as cancer, life expectancy could be increased if the right drugs in the right amount is utilized. And this when where exascale supercomputing will come into play to help pharma achieve this. I recently had a conversation with several researchers working on exascale supercomputing who confirmed this and also confirmed that such technology will be ready by the end of this decade, which in turn will give a boost to AI and machine learning, as I said earlier.
Susan Fourtané 7/7/2017 | 3:29:06 AM
Re: The 2020s No, life expectancy and life span are not quite the same. "Mathematically, life expectancy is the mean number of years of life remaining at a given age, assuming age-specific mortality rates remain at their most recently measured levels. It is denoted by exe_{x}, which means the mean number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged xx, according to a particular mortality experience. Longevity, maximum lifespan, and life expectancy are not synonyms. Life expectancy is defined statistically as the mean number of years remaining for an individual or a group of people at a given age. Longevity refers to the characteristics of the relatively long life span of some members of a population. Maximum lifespan is the age at death for the longest-lived individual of a species. Moreover, because life expectancy is an average, a particular person may die many years before or many years after the "expected" survival. The term "maximum life span" has a quite different meaning and is more related to longevity."
mhhfive 7/5/2017 | 8:59:30 PM
Re: The 2020s > "Yes, life expectancy can change with drugs. "

Ah, yes, I was getting life expectancy confused with maximum life span.. 


Life expectancy varies from region to region, depending on various factors such as healthcare and the "right combination of drugs" etc, etc. 

The maximum life span for humans.. hasn't changed that much since we've kept records, and no one has lived longer than about 122 years. (Unless you count the biblical records of people living hundreds of years as true...)
Susan Fourtané 7/5/2017 | 7:15:01 PM
Re: The 2020s Yes, life expectancy can change with drugs. How? If you get the right combination and dosis of drugs required to fight current life threatening illnesses you get, as a result, a decrease in mortality rate and increase in life expectancy. Life expectancy is not only about genetics.
mhhfive 7/5/2017 | 6:40:51 PM
Re: The 2020s > "Pharma is going to change dramatically as well as life expectancy."

Hmm. Not sure how much life expectancy will actually change with drugs? It seems that life expectancy is more about genetics -- and creating drugs that change a person's genetics in a favorable way... is pretty difficult to do. 

Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Sign In