Exscientia, an artificial intelligence driven pharma-tech company, has been awarded a $4.2m grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Dr Denise Barrault, senior portfolio manager, discussed the funding with Health Tech World.
The funding will be used to apply the company’s Centaur platforms to the discovery of next-generation therapeutic targets and leads.
Exscientia will use its Centaur Biologist platform to apply domain-specific implementations of knowledge graphs and deep learning algorithms to a range of biological data.
Responding to objectives set by Exscientia’s scientists, the platform will prioritise opportunities ranging from existing underappreciated targets to complex new dual target opportunities where Exscientia’s Centaur Chemist can then be applied to evolve novel bispecific small molecules.
The Centaur Chemist platform enables breakthrough productivity gains, as well as new approaches to improve drug design. Novel compounds are automatically designed and prioritised for synthesis by its AI systems, which evolve compounds towards the desired candidate criteria for clinical development.
Barrault said: “The funding will be used to evolve designs up to a certain level by which we will be confident that the platforms are useful for this kind of activity and then we can hopefully get follow-on funding to actually take drugs to clinical stage.
“Exscientia has really proved that AI can make a big difference to drug design and drug discovery. We really can accelerate the whole process so that drugs get to people faster, and they are better drugs because of the AI platform.
“The algorithms that we use allow toxic effects to me to be minimised and they allow us to explore novel pattern space as well. So, all in all, our AI platforms are very beneficial to patients down the line.”