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Big pharma turns to AI to speed drug discovery, GSK signs deal

FILE PHOTO: Signage for GlaxoSmithKline is seen on its offices in London, Britain, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

The world's leading drug companies are turning to artificial intelligence to improve the hit-and-miss business of finding new medicines, with GlaxoSmithKline unveiling a new $43 million deal in the field on Sunday.

Other pharmaceutical giants including Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi are also exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to help streamline the drug discovery process.

The aim is to harness modern supercomputers and machine learning systems to predict how molecules will behave and how likely they are to make a useful drug, thereby saving time and money on unnecessary tests.

AI systems already play a central role in other high-tech areas such as the development of driverless cars and facial recognition software.

"Many large pharma companies are starting to realize the potential of this approach and how it can help improve efficiencies," said Andrew Hopkins, chief executive of privately owned Exscientia, which announced the new tie-up with GSK.

Hopkins, who used to work at Pfizer...


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