Alphabet creates DeepMind offshoot focused on using AI for drug discovery

A new Alphabet subsidiary will focus on performing drug discovery through an AI-driven approach.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

Alphabet has created a new subsidiary called Isomorphic Labs that will focus on using AI processes to develop new drugs.

An offshoot from Deepmind, another AI subsidiary of Alphabet, the idea for Isomorphic Labs came after Deepmind's AI system AlphaFold 2 solved a 50-year old protein folding challenge by predicting the 3D structure of a protein directly from its amino acid sequence to atomic-level accuracy. 

Following this breakthrough, Deepmind and Isomorphic Labs founder and CEO Demis Hassabis said he now believes AI techniques and methods have become powerful and sophisticated enough to be applied to real-world problems, including scientific discovery itself.

In a blog post, Hassabis said the company's mission would be to "reimagine the entire drug discovery process from the ground up with an AI-first approach … and, ultimately, find cures for some of humanity's most devastating diseases".

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"The pandemic has brought to the fore the vital work that brilliant scientists and clinicians do every day to understand and combat disease. 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 said.

During the initial phase of Isomorphic Lab's operations, Hassabis will be its CEO to help facilitate collaboration between the new subsidiary and Deepmind. He added that this would also help set out the strategy, vision, and culture of Isomorphic Labs. 

The company is currently looking to hire people with expertise across AI, biology, medicinal chemistry, biophysics, and engineering.

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