OWKIN secures $11m to scale AI-driven drug discovery platform

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/ktsimage)
(Image: Getty/ktsimage)

Related tags Pharmacology Artificial intelligence

The predictive analytics company OWKIN uses a new AI technique called transfer learning to accelerate drug discovery and development.

OWKIN recently completed an $11 million Series A funding round, bringing its total funds raised to $13.1m in the last year.

The company’s goal is to enable researchers to use artificial intelligence (AI) to answer questions and increase their knowledge on various diseases.

To achieve this goal, OWKIN has two programs – one of which aims to make new discoveries and the other which involves developing its flagship platform OWKIN Socrates, which uses machine learning-based modeling to analyze image libraries and patient datasets to accelerate drug discovery and development.

The funding will be used to support both, Thomas Clozel, MD, OWKIN CEO and co-founder told us.

Even though we’re a small company, we decided to put half of our resources in research and development to really be on the edge of AI in healthcare​,” he said.

We try to go beyond AI​,” Clozel added. “We really build the technologies that can augment researchers’ capabilities.”

As part of this, OWKIN partners with hospitals to bring “the power of real-world intelligence​” to its offerings. These partnerships provide the company access data it needs to build AI prediction models and discover new drug targets and biomarkers.

The information also enables the company to work on very small datasets using transfer learning, an AI technique which is able to advance a machine algorithm’s learning capabilities on one dataset through previous exposure to a different one.

That’s very important for pharma because Phase I and Phase II are very small datasets​,” Clozel said.

However, Clozel admits that AI is being oversold.

I think we need time to understand where it will really have a place in the future,”​ he said.

As part of this, the company aims to put the researcher at the center, building partnerships with healthcare organizations to build a technology that tells a story.

“Every model is a story​,” said Clozel.

The company currently has programs in development with Institut Curie and Centre Leon Berard and has partnered with the pharmaceutical companies Amgen and Actelion.

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