Novartis, the Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company, has teamed up with Microsoft to overcome drug development hurdles. Microsoft AI technology will be put to great use here.
Basically, data scientists from Microsoft Research and research teams from Novartis will work together to investigate how artificial intelligence can help unlock new approaches towards development of new and usable drugs.
The two companies aim to address the challenges underlying every phase of drug development — including research, clinical trials, manufacturing, operations, and finance.
As Peter Lee, Corporate vice president of Microsoft Healthcare said in a blog post:
“As part of our work with Novartis, data scientists from Microsoft Research and research teams from Novartis will also work together to investigate how AI can help unlock transformational new approaches in three specific areas. The first is about personalized treatment for macular degeneration – a leading cause of irreversible blindness. The second will involve exploring ways to use AI to make manufacturing new gene and cell therapies more efficient, with an initial focus on acute lymphoblastic leukemia. And the third area will focus on using AI to shorten the time required to design new medicines, using pioneering neural networks developed by Microsoft to automatically generate, screen and select promising molecules.”
The two companies expect the scope of their joint research to grow, as they work together to tackle drug development using the Azure platform.
Which is good, as designing a new drug is a daunting process, getting even more daunting.
The process itself can take a decade or more, from initial discovery through development, testing and clinical trials, and then finally earning regulatory approval. In fact, nine out of ten promising drug candidates fail somewhere along the way.
This costs life sciences companies, on average, $2.6 billion to introduce a single new prescription drug.
And if the AI technologies Microsoft has in place can do anything to help, then nothing is better.