French startup Iktos and pharma firm Almirall announce research collaboration in AI for new drug design

The generative modelling technology will be used to accelerate the identification of promising drug candidates.
By Tammy Lovell
05:29 AM

French artificial intelligence (AI) startup Iktos has announced a collaboration with global skin-health focused pharmaceutical company Almirall.

The partnership will see Almirall use Iktos generative modelling technology to optimise advanced compounds, bringing speed and efficiency to the drug discovery process.

WHY IT MATTERS

The pharma industry is increasingly turning to AI to accelerate the traditionally long and expensive process of discovering and developing new drugs.

Almirall will use Iktos’ AI technology to design virtual novel molecules that have the desirable characteristics of a novel drug candidate. This will enable rapid, iterative identification of molecules, which simultaneously validate multiple bioactive attributes and drug-like criteria for clinical testing.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Incorporated in October 2016, Iktos specialises in the development of AI solutions applied to medicinal chemistry and new drug design.

The startup recently announced several collaborations with biopharmaceutical companies which will use its AI technology to accelerate the design of promising compounds. Its generative modelling SaaS software, MakyaTM, is available on the market, and Iktos intends to release its retrosynthesis SaaS platform SpayaTM as a beta version, before the end of 2019.

Meanwhile, Swiss pharma firm Novartis recently announced it is teaming up with Microsoft on a new AI initiative focused on drug discovery and development. It will employ Microsoft’s AI tools to help its scientists with computational hurdles in life sciences including generative chemistry, image segmentation and analysis for smart and personalised cell and gene therapies. 

ON THE RECORD

Dr Bhushan Hardas, executive vice president R&D and chief scientific officer of Almirall, said: “This partnership is an example of how we intend to explore the enormous possibilities offered by technology to find new molecules and to speed up clinical development.

“The health sector lags behind others in the digital world. Almirall wants to be at the forefront of innovation to develop holistic and transversal approaches. Artificial Intelligence will provide Almirall a unique opportunity to combine our proficiency with the preciseness and celerity to truly make a difference in patients' lives”.

Yann Gaston-Mathé, president and CEO of Iktos, said: “This new collaboration is further testimony to the leadership position that Iktos has developed in the field of AI for de novo drug design, in little more than two years of existence.

“We are eager to demonstrate to our collaborators the power of Iktos technology to accelerate their research, and to get the opportunity to further improve by confronting our approach to a new use case, consistently with our strategy to prove our value in real-life projects.”