February 24, 2024

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Artificial Intelligence at the Heart of China’s New Drug Discovery

It’s not much of a surprise to find Artificial Intelligence (AI) playing a central role in the pharmaceutical industry. Chinese firms are relying on AI to put more drugs on the market, and by extrapolation extend better services.

The country is gathering momentum for an artificial intelligence-backed drug discovery boom. All thanks to the nation’s emphasis on innovation-driven development, these companies are going through a continuously improving innovation ecosystem, according to industry experts and business leaders.

“It is not a question of whether China will become a powerhouse in AI-driven drug development even though it started relatively late (in the field). The only question is when that will happen.” said an Industry Leader in AI-based Drug Discovery.

For instance, an end-to-end AI-driven drug discovery company with a key research and development team based in Shanghai, announced last February how AI has become central in its methodology. It had dosed multiple healthy volunteers in the phase-1 clinical trial to evaluate the safety of ISM001-055, the first anti-fibrotic small molecule inhibitor generated by its AI-powered drug discovery platform for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). To note, IPF is a chronic, progressive lung disease with unknown causes.

It’s groundbreaking as this marks the world’s first phase-1 clinical trial of a drug developed with AI technology from scratch. The novel anti-fibrotic target and the drug candidate were both discovered by Insilico using an AI platform.

A drug target is a molecule in the body, usually a protein, which is intrinsically associated with a particular disease process and could be addressed by a drug to produce a desired therapeutic effect. The company has also nominated a preclinical candidate compound for innovative cancer immunotherapy in a collaborative project with a Chinese pharmaceutical giant.

A report from an industry database affiliated with a leading online healthcare information provider said the number of financing events and the total financing value in AI-powered drug research and development in China last year almost doubled from 2020. This is driven by an improved regulatory environment and growing market demand. However, the report didn’t reveal the exact figures.

The report said 25 AI-powered drug discovery enterprises in China had obtained new financing in 2021. Another report stated that financing for AI-assisted drug discovery in China exceeded 8 billion yuan (US$ 1.26 billion) last year.

The advantages of using AI in drug discovery are many. Experts detail how AI technology could speed up new drug discovery at various R&D stages, from discovering new drug targets and drug candidates, to candidate optimisation and clinical research. Even better, AI could also help reduce research costs and improve the success rate of new drug discoveries, they added.

China’s infrastructure provides a key role in these AI-driven companies. The country has built sophisticated and advanced infrastructure over the past 20 years, which can synthesise and test any new drug designed anywhere to support drug discovery. Even better, the country has also reduced many regulatory barriers to speed up clinical trials, which makes companies in China willing to take risks for innovation and new drug development.

As a result, AI-driven drug discovery companies are injected with a new development momentum because they are expected to help biotech and pharmaceutical companies reduce risks in new drug discovery. Experts believe that as expensive as new drug development is, only those biotechnological and pharmaceutical companies that harness AI would succeed.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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