Charles River offering AI-enabled drug discovery services via Atomwise tie-up

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/archy13)
(Image: Getty/archy13)

Related tags Charles river laboratories Drug discovery AI Artificial intelligence

Charles River and Atomwise have formed a strategic alliance aimed at accelerating the drug discovery process using AI-powered design technology.

Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Atomwise’s structure-based drug design technology enables scientists to predict how small molecules will bind to a target protein, according to the San Francisco, CA-based company.

Atomwise CEO, Dr. Abraham Heifets, said, “Fundamentally, we came together in this alliance so that we could accomplish feats that were impossible before. Chemists can make far more molecules than can be physically tested, and the industry needs a better solution for choosing which molecules to make.”

Created in 2012, Atomwise has raised more $50m from venture capital firms to support the development of its technology.

“AI has arrived and, together with [Charles River], Atomwise can turn historically intractable targets into new therapeutic opportunities,”​ Heifets told us.

After a vetting process, Charles River chose to collaborate with Atomwise in offering AI-enabled drug discovery to their clients because of the company’s experience with hundreds of projects and its track record for delivering success, said Heifets.

“AI, as well as other next-generation technologies, are key to enhancing standard methods of drug discovery,”​ said Julie Frearson, PhD, corporate vice president, global business development and scientific affairs, Charles River.

“AI in this context specifically provides our clients with the ability to efficiently screen huge amounts of chemical space and predict target affinities thereby accelerating the drug discovery process,”​ she told us.

As for how long the partnerships is set to last, Heifets said, “We hope all sides succeed and that the partnership continues indefinitely.”

Charles River last year expanded​ its early discovery services with the addition of high-throughput technologies and expanded pharmacokinetic services.

In October, the contract research organization (CRO) also announced​ a five-year $95.7m insourcing contact, the initial period of which extends through September 13, 2019. Under the contract​ – awarded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) – Charles River will support biomedical research across multiple scientific disciplines. 

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