The first month of 2019 is not over yet, but there are already four major announcements about new research projects between large drug discovery corporations and smaller artificial intelligence (AI) companies -- this is more than the number of all similar announcements in the year 2014 combined -- only three.
Number of New AI-startups, Amounts of VC funding and Deals With Pharma over Years
The January collaboration spree includes a partnership between one of the largest US-based contract research organizations Charles River Labs with Canadian startup Atomwise to apply AI-driven approach to structure based drug discovery (SBDD). If successful, the deal might be generating up to $2.4 billion in royalty payments for Atomwise.
Roche just partnered with Exscientia to utilize its AI-based drug discovery platform Centaur Chemist™ for designing pre-clinical drug candidates.
Danish Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals just announced a deal with AI-driven drug discovery company Numerate to utilized its expertise and platform for identification of promising clinical candidates for the treatment of central nervous systems (CNS) disorders, including depression.
While the above partnerships are primarily centered around medicinal chemistry tasks and approaches, boosted by AI-algorithms, the next collaboration between Pfizer and Israel AI-driven biotech startup CytoReason is based on a more biology-centric application of AI modelling capabilities -- including the integrated big-data analysis of omics data related to the functioning of the immune system.
Overall, 2019 might well be a turning point for the pharmaceutical AI market, a transition from “quantity to quality” -- a large number of collaborations and venture rounds observed over the last two years might be yielding initial practical breakthroughs.