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The skilled machines disrupting drug design

Capable of identifying novel compounds for therapeutic use, AI is saving time and costs in a process that can take around 10 to 15 years and billions of pounds to complete.

For the pharmaceutical industry, which has traditionally relied on patents to protect innovation and fund R&D, this should be good news, but is an intelligent machine’s output really patentable? This article, first published in Intellectual Property Magazine, October 2018, explores just some of the issues.

Clever algorithm or autonomous robot? 

“AI” is used to describe multiple technologies with a range of computer cognitive abilities, from clever algorithms, to autonomous computers with super-human intellect. Yet whilst the AIs at this latter end of the spectrum are, for the time being, confined to sci-fi, the AIs being developed for use in drug discovery are more advanced than some might think. Start-ups such as BenevolentAI and Healx are training their AIs to learn from public and proprietary resources – including scientific literature, clinical trials and compound libraries – to identify and plan the synthesis of new molecules or known molecules for new uses. Through machine learning, these AIs are able to analyse and learn from vast amounts of data to generate their own approaches to drug design. This is very different to programs currently used in biochemistry to model compounds or run simulations, which generally follow rules-based programming.

AI – not just a buzzword in pharma… Contine reading on HoganLovells.com