Alphabet launches Isomorphic Labs, an AI-driven drug discovery startup


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Google parent company Alphabet announced a new venture Thursday that plans to accelerate the drug discovery process using advances in artificial intelligence. Dubbed Isomorphic Labs, the commercial venture plans to build off Alphabet’s DeepMind AI research incubator, and it shares that venture’s founder and CEO, Demis Hassabis.

“The pandemic has brought to the fore the vital work that brilliant scientists and clinicians do every day to understand and combat disease,” Hassabis wrote in a blog post introducing the new company. “We believe that the foundational use of cutting edge computational and AI methods can help scientists take their work to the next level, and massively accelerate the drug discovery process.”

Hassabis points to the groundbreaking success of DeepMind’s AlphaFold2, which uses AI to predict the 3D structure of a protein directly from its amino acid sequence.

“AI methods will increasingly be used not just for analyzing data, but to also build powerful predictive and generative models of complex biological phenomena,” Hassabis wrote. “AlphaFold2 is an important first proof point of this, but there is so much more to come.”

Hassabis will serve as CEO of both DeepMind and Isomorphic Labs “to facilitate collaboration between the two companies where relevant.” No specific areas of focus have been announced just yet, but the company plans to partner with pharmaceutical and biomedical companies in the immediate future, and it’s currently looking to fill a number of key leadership, scientific, engineering and operational roles, along with hiring computational and medicinal chemists and machine learning experts.

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