Insilico Medicine uses robots in drug discovery programs
Pharma.AI is an end-to-end AI-based drug discovery system created by Insilico Medicine. The system derives its strength from the quantity and quality of its data.
Dr. Michael Levitt, member of Insilico’s Scientific Advisory Board and Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, said that Insilico’s platform makes the most of artificial intelligence (AI) to extract huge volumes of data from several different components, discovering patterns and making estimations that can pave the way for life-saving new drugs.
Insilico, founded in 2014, began developing its system using a huge data repository. PandaOmics™, the target discovery part of Pharma.AI, uses 1.9 trillion data points extracted from over 10 million samples (such as RNA sequencing, microarrays and proteomes) and more 40 million documents (including patents, publications, grants and clinical trial reports).
Insilico tracks federal grant money from early stage experiments to clinical trials, manually entering as needed, including trillions in total. PandaOmics can, at present, not only detect completely new drug targets, but can also estimate which targets are likely to be “hot” in 5 years.
Improving AI with CROs and Pharma Partners
One of the methods Insilico uses to improve its system is to collaborate with more than 80 contract research institutions that perform redundant experiments and develop reproducible data sets.
The company is running 30 in-house therapeutic programs at various stages of development and presenting preclinical candidates at a record pace. It has identified eight preclinical candidates since 2021, including one for COVID-19 and two for cancer in recent months, and its top candidate for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is currently in phase 1 trials, the first drug discovered and developed by AI to achieve this breakthrough.
Insilico has also strengthened its partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry through co-development and software licensing agreements. Since the introduction of PandaOmics™ and Chemistry42™ at the end of 2020, nine of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies, measured by 2020 revenue, have licensed AI systems from Insilico.
Insilico entered into multi-asset partnerships with Fosun Pharma and EQRX in January and March 2022, respectively. Remarkably, Insilico reached its first major milestone and selected a preclinical candidate for the QPCTL program for cancer immunotherapy less than 40 days after the start of the strategic partnership with Fosun Pharma.
Next step: robots
Currently, Insilico aims to make its end-to-end AI system more robust by opening its own AI-driven robotics lab. The laboratory has been in the design phase for 2 years and should be fully operational this year.
It is a real-world interconnected development of Insilico’s drug discovery system and will be operated remotely by its AI platform with autonomous guided vehicles conducting experiments instead of human scientists. These robots will perform next-generation sequencing, cell culture, cell imaging, high-throughput screening and genomic investigation and prediction.
As the robots produce data, that data will be fed directly to the PandaOmics system, improving the system’s target hypotheses and its ability to corroborate those hypotheses.
These robots are faster and more accurate than humans. And as they perform experiments, they feed the AI system with data, improving the system’s target hypotheses and its ability to validate those hypotheses.
Alex Zhavoronokov, PhD., Medicine Founder and CEO, Insilico Medicine
This is all part of the company’s goal to improve and substantiate its system, driving its top candidate to phase 2 trials and further developing its many therapeutic programs. Insilico recently received additional funding in a $60 million Series D funding round from leading biotech investors including Warburg Pincus, BHR Partners, B Capital Group, BOLD Capital Partners, Qiming Venture Partners and Pavilion Capital.
We plan to continue to expand the scope of the pipeline and improve our AI and robotics capabilities globally. Our rapidly growing team is comprised of talented and experienced drug discovery scientists with diverse backgrounds and an unrelenting passion for novelty and innovation, and fully committed to new drug development with a sense of emergency for waiting patients.
Feng Ren, PhD., Scientific Director and Head of Global Research and Development, Insilico Medicine
Feng Ren has 15 years of experience in large pharmaceutical and CRO companies.