A £50m Injection Into AI Discovered Drugs

Exscientia, the self-proclaimed Oxford-based world leader of applying artificial intelligence to drug discovery, has received a £49 ($60) million injection from its funding round which was led by an international foundation that focuses on funding research into medical treatment.

The company, founded in 2012, aims to use a full-stack artificial intelligence to generate medical drugs for diseases by combining their own AI-generated data and the expertise of their scientists. This, according to the company, leads to a faster pre-clinical drug discovery stage than typical drug-designing methods. The company, which has previously been funded by Celgene, a biotechnology giant, claim that this approach is the future of medical drug discovery.

The rough drug discovery process of Exscientia

The rough drug discovery process of Exscientia

The drive behind this initiative lies in the fact that most drugs currently on the market have taken on average 10-15 years to go from discovery to the market place. This is problematic in a high population world we are heading into in the future where diseases can arise from anywhere in the larger population base and need rapid treatment, not something that is years away. This is even more apparent during the coronavirus where lockdown is currently a requirement in many nations around the world, however, treatment is approximately a year away at best, but lockdown cannot be exited without risking a second peak without one.

The investment aims to increase the speed and quality of the research being carried out in Exscientia into how AI can be used to design medical drugs. The firm is also currently using artificial intelligence alongside its many partners to create a treatment for the virus behind the COVID-19 pandemic. The company had previously raised £21 ($29) million in its last funding round, meaning that this is a significant step up and a sign that investors are beginning to think that artificial intelligence has a place in the field of healthcare research. A possible reason for this rise in funding is that the company has been thriving since its last funding round, having multiplied its revenue by 6 since while also expanding abroad into the United States.

However, Exscientia isn't the only company looking into using AI to speed up the process of healthcare, there have been many companies looking into a cheap and quick method of diagnosis of diseases using AI. Others have been looking into personalising medicine to people to increase the effectiveness of a drug.