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Merck KGaA enters drug discovery partnership with AI firm Itkos

Published on 15/03/19 at 11:45am

Merck KGaA and artificial intelligence (AI) firm Iktos have entered into a partnership, the pair have announced, to leverage the latter’s generative modelling AI technology in a bid to “facilitate the rapid and cost-effective discovery and design of promising new compounds”.

The firm’s AI technology, which is based on “deep generative models”, promises to “bring speed and efficiency to the drug discovery process” by quickly singling out molecules which satisfy the requirements of multiple bioactivity and drug-like criteria for clinical testing.

For Itkos, the new collaboration is one of a number of newly signed partnerships with biopharma firms to utilise the company’s AI platform in the development of new drug compounds.

“We are thrilled that Merck is collaborating with Iktos to further accelerate its drug discovery capabilities,” commented Yann Gaston-Mathé, President and CEO of Iktos. “In a short space of time, our technology has successfully enabled huge progress and we are eager to apply the enormous possibilities it holds to help Merck with the successful design of new therapeutic options.”

Belén Garijo, Member of the Executive Board and CEO Healthcare at Merck, also remarked: “This agreement is another illustration of how we aim to enrich our discovery engine with strategic technology-focused collaborations. Artificial intelligence is emerging as a pillar in the biopharmaceutical R&D model, giving us exponential opportunity to complement our existing expertise with further speed and better precision. For patients, this could mean faster access to novel treatment options.”

Matt Fellows

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