When you look at the current statistics and science surrounding drug development, the numbers add up to a clear need for change. Today there are more than 10,000, mostly rare diseases, that lack a viable treatment. New drugs cost nearly $3 billion to develop and can take upwards of 10 years to reach the market—about 9 in 10 fail testing during clinical trials. Meanwhile, more rare diseases are being identified and more individuals are suffering without hope in sight.
With the goal of creating swifter progress, artificial intelligence can speed up manual processes and engage advanced technology for modeling, testing, and uncovering new therapies for a range of diseases. Pharma companies of all sizes are now turning to AI and its subset, machine learning, to spot patterns and potential solutions for a range of diseases and illnesses.
More answers and information, less time and investment
AI and machine learning have the potential to increase time to market, or, at the very least, root out ineffective treatments to save valuable time and money. Likewise, the ability to examine a wealth of data can help organizations repurpose or update previous ideas and applications, potentially leading to new uses. They can also combine and customize existing treatments based on specific markers for greater application and efficacy.
Further, artificial intelligence applications can examine blood and tissue from patients who may or may not have a particular disease to better isolate potential treatments. It can process millions of images to determine if a new therapy will treat a disease without also damaging healthy cells. Essentially, the potential applications are nearly limitless and could be a game-changer when it comes to rare and untreated diseases.
AI progress to date
Several new therapies developed with artificial intelligence and machine learning are already in the human trial stage. Recursion Pharmaceuticals, a clinical stage biotech based in Salt Lake City, is using technology to “industrialize drug discovery” while “reshaping the traditional drug discovery funnel.” Recursion presently has four drugs in its development pipeline that target a variety of serious conditions with several more in earlier stages of development.
Globally, companies are using AI to test treatments for cancer, obsessive-compulsive disorder, fragile X syndrome and a host of rare diseases. Global pioneer Roche recently signed an agreement with PathAI, an AI-powered technology leader for pathology, with intentions to more than double the number of drugs it can create in the next decade.
They are hardly alone. Other notable companies using AI for drug development include Absci Corporation (ABSI), BioXcel Therapeutics (BTAI), Evaxion Biotech (EVAX), Exscientia (EXAI) and Schrodinger (SDGR), among others. The worldwide market is expected to exceed $1.4 billion by 2024, according to MarketsandMarkets, with investments in drug discovery continuing to skyrocket.
In the end, human intelligence and artificial intelligence can work together to treat disease, identify solutions for long-held problems and potentially change the landscape of drug discovery.
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