Alphabet has created a new company called Isomorphic Labs that seeks to use artificial intelligence to discover new pharmaceutical drugs. The business venture would build on progress made by Alphabet’s DeepMind, which used a model called AlphaFold2 to predict the shape of proteins in the human body with near perfect accuracy, which is considered key. breakthrough in the scientific and medical communities.
In a blog post announce new company, founder and CEO Demis Hassabis has set ambitious goals, saying the project could “reimagine the whole drug discovery process from first principles with an AI-driven approach and, ultimately , to model and understand some of the fundamental mechanisms of life. “
Hassabis is also the CEO of DeepMind but the two companies will be separated, according to a spokesperson who spoke to The edge. The new company will join Alphabet’s growing portfolio of healthcare businesses, which includes In truth, a biotech company and a moonshot life extension company Calico.
If successful, Isomorphic Labs says it will speed up the drug discovery process and “build powerful predictive and generative models of complex biological phenomena.” In a more practical sense though, any time AI can save money in drug discovery, it could have a significant impact on a system currently facing a stalemate. According to a report published by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America trade group, an average of new drugs takes at least ten years to go from discovery to market with an estimated cost of around $ 2.6 billion.
By no means will Isomorphic Labs be the first company to try and apply AI to medical discovery. Pfizer, for example, spent years work with IBM’s Watson on immuno-oncology drug research while global pharmaceutical company UBC recently in partnership with Microsoft to use its cloud computing and artificial intelligence to support drug discovery and development. Nvidia has meanwhile in partnership with AstraZeneca, Schrödinger and the University of Florida to improve AI-assisted drug discovery research. There is also a Deep handbag from other small businesses looking to use AI also to accelerate drug discovery.
Anyone fearing the Alphabet’s sudden takeover of the medical industry overnight can probably rest easy for the time being. Big tech disruption to healthcare has long been anticipated, but apart from some projects still in development at Amazon and Apple, this vision has yet to fully materialize.
In the company’s blog post, Hassabis described the company as a kind of watershed for artificial intelligence as a technology.
For years, the greatest advancements in AI have been documented by accolades in games like AlphaGo or incremental advancements. Now, with Isomorphic Labs, the company believes the technology has matured enough to start solving real world problems.
“We are now at an exciting time in history when these techniques and methods are becoming powerful and sophisticated enough to be applied to real world problems, including scientific discovery itself,” Hassabis wrote. For this we will see.