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Pfizer Teams with XtalPi for AI-Driven Drug Modeling

Next-gen artificial intelligence (AI) has mainstream society absolutely captivated. The majority of the general public was introduced to advanced AI concepts like machine learning when IBM's Watson supercomputer competed – and won – on the hit game show, Jeopardy. While that was a great demonstration of the early technology in action, the reach of AI goes well beyond fun and games.

Researchers in big pharma are taking a strong interest in the application of AI in the design and development of new prescription drugs. Many projects, like the recent collaboration between Pfizer and XtalPi, are already underway.

Introducing the New, Tech-Driven Research Collaboration

Charlotte Allerton, head of medicine design with Pfizer, was highly enthusiastic in a recent press release, saying: "The XtalPi collaboration is an opportunity to enhance our computational modeling capabilities. We are looking forward to potentially utilizing new tools to increase our effectiveness in small molecule drug discovery and development."

The project's specific purpose is the design and development of a new software platform – utilizing advanced concepts in physics and AI – to aide in molecular modeling and drug discovery. It uses principles of quantum mechanics, advanced machine learning and cloud-based storage to improve modeling accuracy and bolster the success of pharmaceutical predictions.

Apart from streamlining the processes involved in new drug modeling and discovery, their partnership has the potential to revolutionize how pharmaceutical companies go about researching and creating new drugs in the future. This sentiment was echoed in a recent statement by XtalPi.

Shuhao Wen, co-founder and chairman with XtalPi, spoke about the new partnership by saying: “We are excited to partner with Pfizer, a leading pharmaceutical innovator which shares our belief that algorithm-driven technologies with physics insight will give rise to a new generation of highly efficient and accurate drug research and development tools. The collaboration allows us to apply our expertise in molecular modeling, AI, and cloud computing towards improving existing computational methods while exploring new algorithms to address a wide range of drug design challenges. We look forward to helping expedite research into novel therapeutics as our intelligent digital drug discovery and development platform continues to expand and succeed."

Pfizer currently uses the Oracle Cloud for clinical data and trial management. They've been using Oracle since 2016 to monitor and manage more than 300 clinical trials every year, but this recent announcement will surely require a greater reliance on cloud services than ever before. Whether or not they stick with Oracle remains to be seen, but they've made no announcements either way.

Steve Rosenberg, senior vice president and general manager with Oracle Health Sciences, was quoted as saying: "With more than 15 years of electronic data capture experience in the clinical industry, Oracle Health Sciences helps leading pharmas — such as Pfizer — not only to standardize and optimize their clinical study processes, but also to be prepared with value-based clinical innovation solutions that enable them for the future of data collection."

The Next Generation of Drug Discovery

Breakthroughs like AI and machine learning have paved the way for new partnerships and developments in nearly every profession – and we're still in the earliest phases of such advanced technology. Ventures like this not only benefit the medical industry, its workers and its customers, but it also shows companies in other industries how they can harness technology and succeed in the 21st century.


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