GlaxoSmithKline taps Baltimore’s Insilico for AI-based drug discovery

GlaxoSmithKline and Insilico Medicine are partnering to explore how the latter’s artificial intelligence technology can aid in the drug discovery process.

The duo kept mum on the details but said the agreement comes after Baltimore-based Insilico completed a series of pilot challenges. First, Glaxo will “evaluate Insilico’s technology in the identification of novel biological targets and pathways of interest,” according to a statement.

Based at Johns Hopkins University’s Emerging Technology Centers, Insilico uses genomics, big data analysis and deep learning for in silico drug discovery, or drug discovery through computer modeling. The company has its own drug discovery programs in cancer, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and diabetes, as well as in age-related diseases such as sarcopenia, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

“We are delighted to be working with the Insilico team, as they have exhibited curiosity, agility and AI expertise that we value,” said John Baldoni, senior vice president of platform technology and science at GSK, in the statement. “GSK recently established a drug discovery unit to explore how this rapidly developing field might drive drug discovery at a higher velocity, with greater precision and at a reduced cost. The collaboration with Insilico represents one of several approaches we are exploring to take advantage of emerging technology that might make us more effective and efficient, always keeping in mind the patients who need new medicines.”

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The collaboration is GSK’s second drug discovery deal of the summer based around AI. In July, the Big Pharma inked a deal with Exscientia—which automates drug discovery with its AI-enabled platform—that could see the Dundee, U.K.-based company rake in up to £33 million ($42.7 million) in research payments. The Exscientia partnership aims to identify small molecules to treat as many as 10 targets chosen by GSK.

“In our opinion, GSK is one of the most innovative science-led healthcare companies, which realized the potential of artificial intelligence early and has demonstrated its ability to partner with innovative startups in the field. We are delighted to collaborate with arguably, some of the world’s best scientists on chronic diseases with unmet need,” Alex Zhavoronkov, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine, said in the statement.