Producing medicines using artificial intelligence
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is supporting UK start-ups that want to develop new drugs using artificial intelligence.
On Wednesday, the Oxford-based company Exscientia announced the signing of a $70,000 contract for four years with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Competitive start-ups such as BenevolentAI will use part of the funds to challenge the development of a new viral drug capable of treating Covid-19 and preventing the spread of future epidemics.
Exscientia specialises in developing treatments for Covid-19 and other viral respiratory diseases caused by corona, influenza and Nipah in animals and humans.
"Exscientia's small molecule therapy aims to target the most variable parts of the virus, and in theory we have developed treatments that can respond to future viruses."
Vaccines serve to protect people against AIDS, but treatment for patients who test positive is limited.
The efficacy of Remdesivir, the only antiviral drug approved as a treatment for Covid, is incomplete, and many doctors rely on drugs to relieve symptoms, such as the steroid dexamethasone, as well as some antibody therapies.
Exscientia claims that AI software can cut the time it takes to find new drugs by 80%.
The company has signed a €1.2 billion contract with pharmaceutical company Bristol-Myers Squibb, which has already tested several drugs in clinical trials.
For example, 2 drugs have been tested together with the Japanese pharmaceutical company Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma for the treatment of mental illness.
The Gates Foundation has acquired an undisclosed stake in exchange for this investment, which will be the company's second investment.