Accelerating Drug Discovery: Isomorphic Labs' Ambitious AI Goal

Isomorphic Labs aims to halve drug discovery time using AI, with Eli Lilly and Novartis in a $3 billion partnership.

Can AI help with healthcare?

Isomorphic Labs, a Google DeepMind spin-off, is setting an ambitious target to halve the time for drug discovery. Demis Hassabis, head of Google's AI unit and leader of Isomorphic Labs, revealed this goal following significant partnerships with Eli Lilly and Novartis totaling $3 billion.

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Transforming Drug Development With AI

Isomorphic Labs aims to reduce the drug discovery phase, typically a five-year process, to just two years. This initiative is particularly noteworthy in the wake of their newly formed alliances with pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly and Novartis. The innovative use of AI to predict biochemical structures positions Isomorphic Labs at the forefront of revolutionizing drug creation. These partnerships are set against the backdrop of an industry where developing a new drug can take a decade and cost around $2.7 billion, as per Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development research.

Isomorphic Labs logo
Isomorphic Labs was incorporated on February 4, 2021.

Strategic Pharma Collaborations

The choice of Eli Lilly and Novartis as partners was deliberate, focusing on collaborations that enhance Isomorphic's technology. The deal with Lilly involves a $45 million upfront payment, followed by potential performance-based payments of up to $1.7 billion. Novartis's agreement includes a $37.5 million initial payment and up to $1.2 billion in performance-based incentives.

Building A Foundation For Future Innovations

Isomorphic Labs, founded in 2021 as an Alphabet subsidiary, plans to establish experimental facilities to further collaborate with pharmaceutical companies. This move comes as Google DeepMind, now merged with Google Brain, seeks to consolidate its position in the competitive AI landscape, contending with entities like Microsoft-backed OpenAI.

The Future Of AI In Drug Discovery

Isomorphic Labs' AI platform leverages DeepMind's AlphaFold technology, which has significantly advanced the prediction of protein structures. The company's unique approach in developing fundamental models of biology and chemistry distinguishes it in a sector where interest in AI for drug discovery has surged, with sector investments rising from $1.8 billion in 2018 to $4.4 billion in 2022. While acknowledging the financial aspect of the recent deals, Hassabis emphasizes Isomorphic's focus on creating generative models that simulate real biochemical constraints.

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In conclusion, Isomorphic Labs' initiatives and partnerships are poised to make a substantial impact on the drug discovery process, potentially halving the time and cost involved. This advancement not only showcases the capabilities of AI in healthcare but also signals a new era in the pharmaceutical industry.

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