Using AI to improve drug development

Article by Amanda Jasi

Iktos' AI is used to make drug development quicker and more cost-effective

SCIENCE and technology company Merck is collaborating with Iktos to use Iktos’ artificial intelligence (AI) technology in three drug discovery projects. This is expected to enable rapid and cost-effective discovery and design of promising novel compounds.  

Iktos is a French startup specialised in the development of AI for use in chemical research. It is specifically applied to medical chemistry and novel drug design. Iktos has recently announced several collaborations with biopharmaceutical companies in which its technology will be used to accelerate the design of promising compounds.

Iktos’ generative modelling AI technology automatically designs virtual novel molecules with activities required for the treatment of a given disease. This tackles a key challenge of drug design by enabling the rapid identification of molecules which fulfil multiple bioactivity and drug-like criteria for clinical testing.

Though the generative modelling technology has already been successfully established in other fields – such as image processing and automatic translation – it has only recently been applied to chemistry.

This new collaboration is part of Merck’s research and development strategy to advance drug discovery with strategic technology-focussed collaborations.

According to Iktos, Belén Garijo, Executive Board member and CEO of Healthcare at Merck, said: “This agreement is another illustration of how we aim to enrich our discovery engine with strategic technology-focussed collaborations. Artificial intelligence is emerging as a pillar in the biopharmaceutical R&D model, giving us exponential opportunity to complement our existing expertise with further speed and better precision. For patients, this could mean faster access to novel treatment options.”

Yann Gaston-Mathé, President and CEO of Iktos, said: “We are thrilled that Merck is collaborating with Iktos to further accelerate its drug discovery capabilities. In a short space of time, our technology has successfully enabled huge progress and we are eager to apply the enormous possibilities it holds to help Merck with the successful design of new therapeutic options.”

Article by Amanda Jasi

Staff reporter, The Chemical Engineer

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