Alphabet’s isomorphic labs will use AI to discover new pharmaceutical drugs
Alphabet has created a new company called Isomorphic Labs that seeks to use artificial intelligence to discover new pharmaceutical drugs. The commercial venture would build on advances 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 believed to be key. breakthrough in the scientific and medical communities.
In a blog post announcing new company founder and CEO Demis Hassabis set ambitious goals, saying the project could “reinvent the entire drug discovery process from first principles with an AI-driven approach and ultimately account, 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 add to Alphabet’s growing portfolio of healthcare businesses, which includes In trutha biotechnology company and a life extension company moonshot Calico.
If successful, Isomorphic Labs says it will accelerate 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 released by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America trade group, it takes on average at least ten years for new drugs to go from discovery to market, with an estimated cost of around $2.6 billion.
Isomorphic Labs will by no means be the first company to try to apply AI to medical discovery. Pfizer, for example, spent year working with IBM’s Watson in 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 purse from other small businesses looking to use AI to also accelerate drug discovery.
Anyone fearing Alphabet’s sudden takeover of the medical industry can probably rest for now. Big Tech’s disruption of healthcare has been predicted for a long time, but aside from some projects still in development at Amazon and Applethis vision has yet fully implemented.
In the company’s blog post, Hassabis described the company as a type of watershed moment for artificial intelligence as a technology.
For years, the biggest advancements in AI have been documented by accolades in games like AlphaGo or progressive advancements. Now, with Isomorphic Labs, the company believes the technology has matured enough to begin solving real world problems.
“We are now at an exciting time in history where these techniques and methods are becoming powerful and sophisticated enough to be applied to real-world problems, including scientific discovery itself,” Hassabis wrote. For that, we will see.