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Blog: Artificial Intelligence in the Pharma Industry


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The age of AI in Biotech, Genomics and Healthcare is quickly coming to fruition.

The facilitation of research and development (R&D) is perhaps the most common use case for AI applications in the pharmaceutical industry. However in the decade ahead artificial intelligence and deep learning will be increasingly implicated in the future of healthcare.

In April, 2019 IBM halted sales of Watson AI tool for drug discovery amid sluggish growth.

Still there is a sense that Artificial Intelligence is ramping up in drug development. You can see this with genomic and biotech stocks on the stock market becoming more valuable in 2019.

Recently, AstraZeneca announced a long-term collaboration deal with BenevolentAI, a UK-based company focused on combining computational medicine and advanced artificial intelligence.

BenevolentAI was founded in 2013 and it focuses on “accelerating the journey from data to medicines.” To achieve that, it has already raised $202 million to look at early drug discovery through to late-stage clinical development, and has a research facility in Cambridge, U.K. where there is plenty of AI talent to be had.

This long-term collaboration between AstraZeneca and BenevolentAI will bring the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to bear in the hunt for new treatments for chronic kidney disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t just for tech companies and enterprise level firms anymore. A new tide of Biotech stocks are also capitalizing on AI’s potential to deliver revolutionary drugs and speed up drug discovery. Accenture revealed in a report in 2018 that AI in healthcare could become a $6.6 billion industry by 2021. This is up from just $600 million in 2014.

BenevolentAI’s biomedical knowledge graph is a network of contextualized scientific data, covering genes, proteins, diseases and compounds, and the relationship between them.

According to the company, machine learning analyses data systematically to understand connections between facts, while AI-based reasoning is utilized for extrapolating previously unknown connections. This means that it’s not just the likes of Google, Amazon, Apple and companies like Tencent that are at the forefront of the intersection between AI and healthcare, it’s a wide range of startups and established firms as well.

If nearly one-third of national health expenditures in the U.S. come from hospital care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We know that Alphabet (Google) is now using AI to really make a difference in healthcare, where the most practical area to focus on would be in reducing hospital costs. Amazon’s healthtech division of 1492 can also contribute to this in the years ahead.

AI is a sleeping giant for healthcare in general and this will be a significant theme of AI in the 2020s.

When Amazon acquired PillPack you knew they were going to be serious about healthcare and pharma. Amazon Web Services, also hired a slew of health experts in recent years to beat out Microsoft and Google for contracts with large hospitals and pharmaceutical vendors.

Google’s healthcare AI team thinks “that AI is poised to transform medicine, delivering new, assistive technologies that will empower doctors to better serve their patients.” Meanwhile in the AppleWatch Apple has the most actionable wearble in the world with regards to monitoring our health.

There are various stocks that foreshadow the rise of AI in pharma and R&D as well. One of my favorites is BTAI. Biotech BioXcel Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ:BTAI) is on the hunt for the next wave of neuroscience and immuno-oncology medicines. BTAI uses AI to identify untapped potential in existing drugs or clinically validated product candidates.

The BenevolentAI collab bodes well and illustrates just how intersectional the future of AI in healthcare R&D is going to be. For instance, that collaboration will combine the genomics, chemistry and clinical data of AstraZeneca with the target identification platform and biomedical knowledge graph of BenevolentAI.

Source: Artificial Intelligence on Medium

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