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Google Cloud adds AI solutions for drug discovery


Google Cloud has announced two new AI-powered life science solutions to accelerate drug discovery and precision medicine for biotechnology companies, pharmaceutical companies, and public sector organizations.

Target and Lead Identification Sequences help researchers better identify amino acid functions and predict protein structure; and the Multiomics Suite accelerates the discovery and interpretation of genomic data, helping companies design precision treatments.

“We have long been engaged in creating new tools for understanding and working with life’s code, such as high-performance computing for genomic analytics, and artificial intelligence that can predict three-dimensional protein models,” said Shweta Maniar, global director, Life Sciences Strategy and Solutions, Google Cloud.

“The new solutions launched today can transform life science organizations by accelerating drug discovery and bringing therapies to market more quickly. When patients are waiting for a life-saving treatment in cancer treatment or a quality-of-life drug for migraine headaches, this quicker time to market can have a very positive impact on lives.

Accelerating drug discovery

Accelerating the identification of targets and prospects is critical to the race towards drug discovery. Today, developing a new drug from an original idea to finished product launch is a complex process that can take 12 to 15 years and cost more than $1 billion, according to the British Journal of Pharmacology.

In addition, identifying biological targets involved in disease that are feasible for drug intervention can take up to 12 months. Many companies use X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to determine the 3D structure of proteins, but these have a high failure rate. Finally, once the drug discovery process is underway, it is not easy to scale up or down the supporting technology based on demand.

Google Cloud’s Target and Lead Identification Suite enable biopharma companies to bring therapies to market more quickly by enabling more efficient in silico drug design. Identifying its targets will help companies quickly predict antibody structure, assess the structure and function of amino acid mutagenesis, and accelerate de novo protein design. This solution also enables lead optimization which can be used to find new high quality candidates at low cost for Quantitative Structure Activity Relationship (QSAR) studies or for Free Energy Perturbation (FEP) calculations.

The Target and Prospect Identification series includes: data absorption, target identification, and prospect identification.

Early adopters to the Target and Lead Identification Suite include multinational pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, and biotech companies such as Cerevel.

“We partnered with Google in exploring how AlphaFold2 could potentially accelerate our drug discovery process, accelerating the ability of our researchers to conduct their experiments on the scalable Google Cloud computing platform optimized for accelerators,” said Nicholas Labello, senior principal computing scientist at Pfizer, Inc. .

“At Cerevel we aim to unravel the mysteries of the brain to solve some of neuroscience’s most difficult to treat diseases, including evaluating new therapies for schizophrenia, epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. The Target and Prospect Identification Suite with AlphaFold provides us with a valuable tool to evaluate and improve our discovery efforts more efficiently,” said Claude Barberis, vice president, medicinal chemistry at Cerevel.

“The deeper understanding and insights we can gain could ultimately bring treatments for neuroscience’s most devastating diseases to market more quickly, improving the daily lives of millions of people.”

About Google Cloud Multimic Suite

Genome differences can influence susceptibility to certain diseases and how people respond to drugs, and increasing the diversity and pool of genomic understanding can help realize the potential of precision medicine. But leveraging the exponential growth in genomic data requires significant resources that many organizations cannot support. In addition, there are high costs associated with obtaining, storing, distributing and analyzing genomic data as the volume of data continues to increase, doubling every 7-12 months.

Google Cloud’s Multiomics Suite advances precision drug care by turning multiomics data into insights to advance scientific discovery. Organizations can use these solutions to streamline and accelerate genomic data analysis, design clinical genomics, accelerate personalized medicine, and interpret genomic data to unlock new discoveries. The solution also provides a structure and process for researchers and data scientists to collaborate, saving time on developing new pathways, algorithms or methods.

What sets Multiomics Suite apart is that it is cloud agnostic, enabling organizations to leverage their existing investments in multiomics in a simplified environment. It also offers complete traceability through Vertex AI, so customers can manage millions of artifacts in their cloud environment. Finally, it leverages the power of Google Research to convert hundreds of thousands of files, samples, and recordings to load variant call format (VCF) files from Google Cloud Storage into BigQuery for analysis.

“Google Cloud life science customers can benefit from our long experience in this domain. The Vertex AI Pipelines and Datasets features provide this essential and complete traceability for advanced experiments,” said Maniar.

Mutiomics Suite includes: data ingestion and analytics, secondary analysis, and tertiary analysis.

Reduce costs and time

“Combining the science of genetics with the business of discovery, we seek to advance the economics of biology and healing through genetics,” said Alexander Titus, vice president of strategy & computational science at Colossal Biosciences.

“With Google Cloud’s Multiomics Suite, Colossal was able to see a 52% reduction in overall costs and an 88% reduction in time to perform an entire genome sequence analysis when compared to open source tools — indicating a dramatic increase in overall computational efficiency. It accelerates our ability to solve problems critical to all life on Earth.”

The Google Cloud delivery partner ecosystem provides expert service deployments for the Target and Lead Identification Suite and the Multiomics Suite to help life sciences organizations deploy at scale. These partners include EPAM Systems, Inc., Form Bio, Max Kelsen, Omnigen, Quantiphi, and others.

Form Bio says the collaboration fits perfectly, with its founding mission to help scientists drive their next breakthroughs.

“The growing interest in bioinformatics and AI is inspiring waves of life sciences companies to turn to cloud-based computing,” said Mark Swendsen, chief revenue officer for Form Bio.

“Form Bio has a team of industry experts and is built on Google Cloud’s cutting-edge high-performance computing, data analytics, and AI technologies, putting us ahead of the curve.”

“With Google Cloud’s state-of-the-art platform, Form Bio is positioned to improve the accessibility, ease of use, and interpretation of life science research data. Through this alliance with Google Cloud, we will be able to drive automation and optimization for the industry, empowering life science researchers to accelerate their breakthroughs and extend our scope and reach to the scientific and academic communities,” added Swendsen.


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