Google Parent Alphabet to Launch New AI-Driven Drug Discovery Company

Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc has announced the launch of a new UK-based company called Isomorphic Labs, dedicated to applying an AI-first approach to drug discovery.

Isomorphic Labs will build on research carried out by London-based AI laboratory DeepMind, which was acquired by Google in 2014. The commercial venture has a mission to revamp the full drug discovery process with an “AI-first approach to model and understand some of the fundamental mechanisms of life”.

The CEO and co-founder of DeepMind, Demis Hassabis, is now also appointed as the founder and interim CEO of Isomorphic Labs. Hassabis noted that this will serve to enable collaboration between the two companies where appropriate, and to set out the strategy, vision and culture of Isomorphic Labs. The new company is now looking to build a strong multidisciplinary team, with deep expertise in areas such as AI, biology, medicinal chemistry, biophysics, and engineering.

Demis Hassabis stated in his blog:

“As pioneers in the emerging field of ‘digital biology’, we look forward to helping usher in an amazingly productive new age of biomedical breakthroughs. Isomorphic’s mission could not be a more important one: to use AI to accelerate drug discovery, and ultimately, find cures for some of humanity’s most devastating diseases.”.

Drug discovery is a lengthy and complex trial-and-error process that entails combining many different compounds in many different ways. According to companies like London’s BenevolentAI and Exscientia and San Francisco’s Atomwise, the use of artificial intelligence can accelerate the discovery process and increase the chances of success.

In July, DeepMind announced that approximately one-third of proteins in the AlphaFold2 database – developed with the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) were considered to be precise enough to facilitate drug design.

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