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Home Healthcare Pharma Giant Merck Signs Deal to Utilize AI for Drug Discovery

Pharma Giant Merck Signs Deal to Utilize AI for Drug Discovery

In recent times, the adoption of artificial intelligence in the health care sector has been on an all-time high.

Pharmaceutical companies all over the world are starting to recognize and embrace the potential of this technology, especially when it comes to drug discovery

Recently, German-based Merck KGaA revealed its entry into a licensing deal with Cyclica Inc. to utilize Ligand Express, an in silico proteome screening platform.

Ligand Express is an artificial intelligence and structure-based augmented proteome screening platform, which helps in uncovering new targets that are made to connect with a small molecule.

The year-long licensing agreement between Merck and Cyclica Inc. will allow the former to efficiently and quickly explain the mechanisms of action, assess safety profiles, and go through extra application for several of its investigational small molecules such as those recognized in highly disease-based phenotypic screens.

“With scientific curiosity at the heart of everything we do, the pursuit of state-of-the-art research techniques and technologies is integral to complement our internal discovery engine,” said Belén Garijo, a Member of the Executive Board and CEO Healthcare, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

“Artificial intelligence has the power to make the previously unimaginable a reality – we are eager to harness these new possibilities to help drive the discoveries that can transform the lives of people affected by difficult-to-treat diseases.”

“A key part of our R&D strategy is to progress highly promising compounds as efficiently and rapidly as possible,” added Friedrich Rippmann, Director of Computational Chemistry & Biology at Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany.

“Assessing new technologies is central to how we will advance our discovery programs, and artificial intelligence applications like Ligand Express® will provide important insights to enhance how we think about target identification to support phenotypic screening and off-target profiling in general.”

“Current experimental protein screening approaches can take up to a year, making it virtually impossible to do this for multiple compounds. We see this as a specific opportunity for cloud-based and AI-augmented technologies to drive drug discovery more efficiently,” said Naheed Kurji, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Cyclica.

“We are thrilled that Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany will be leveraging the power of our Ligand Express platform to drive their identification of novel targets.”

Traditional development mainly that of small molecule therapies, concentrates on particular, disease-related protein targets.

Nevertheless, once a drug is ingested, it interacts with many proteins before it is removed from the human body.

Ligand Express allows you to capture a distinctive panoramic view relating to the proteome of a particular small molecule.

Since the technology can come up with the ways in which a given small molecule would relate with all the proteins of a known structure, it can aid in identifying both ‘off-targets’(interactions that can lead to an adverse effect) and ‘on-targets’(interactions that may lead to a desirable effect on a specific illness).

Merck KGaA looks forward to embracing cutting-edge technologies in delivering a groundbreaking change to patients.

The technologies include the ones being developed by partners with the same passion for both discovery and advancing the progress made by humans.

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KC Cheung
KC Cheung has over 18 years experience in the technology industry including media, payments, and software and has a keen interest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning, neural networks and its applications in business. Over the years he has worked with some of the leading technology companies, building and growing dynamic teams in a fast moving international environment.
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