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New AI partnership to develop cardiovascular medication

British company Exscientia has been working with several pharmaceutical companies (including Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, and Roche), offering its artificial intelligence system to aid the drug discovery process. With the new announcement, Bayer are to back the project with €240 million ($266 million) over the course of three years.

The focus of this digital transformation of the medication development process will be on the application of artificial intelligence to speed up the discovery of small molecule drug candidates. The drug candidates will have targets linked to oncology and cardiovascular disease.

The deal between the two companies, as PharmaPorum reports, will see Bayer owning the rights to the compounds and Exscientia will receive royalties relating to future sales.

Commenting on the new arrangement, Dr Joerg Moeller of Bayer said: “we believe that digital technologies such as AI can simplify and speed up the discovery and development of new drugs for patients.”

Bayer becomes the latest in a line of pharmaceutical firms investing in AI technology in order to overcome many of the hurdles, including multiple false-starts, in order to accelerate the drug discovery process. This happens because artificial intelligence can screen thousands of compounds very quickly and with far greater precision compared with standard computer models operated by a human research assistant.

Pharmaceutical companies are keen to find new drugs, in the economic context of a fall in the return-of-investment with new drugs coming to market. According to a survey conducted by Deloittev, returns on investment tin relation to pharmaceutical research and development have dropped to the lowest level in ten years, standing at around 1.9 percent.

In some cases, artificial intelligence can reduce the molecule screening process by a several years and reduce the discovery-to-market process up a decade. AI can also assist with drug development productivity.

In terms of work Exscientia has undertaken with other companies, French-based Sanofi have successfully advanced medications for inflammatory and fibrotic disease, and GlaxoSmithKline has developed a treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Both of these successes came about through the application of artificial intelligence.

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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