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Pharma industry group to support AI-based new drugs
  • By So Jae-hyeon
  • Published 2018.03.06 14:47
  • Updated 2018.03.06 14:47
  • comments 0

Korea’s largest group of pharmaceutical companies said it would develop an industrial platform to help drugmakers develop novel medicines based on artificial intelligence (AI).

The Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association (KPBMA) launched a project group Monday --consisting of some drugmakers, a government agency, and an AI service firm -- to establish an “AI-based new drug development support center” and unveiled related plans.

Along with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the pharmaceutical industry has seen the needs for AI-based new drug development.

To develop a novel drug, a drugmaker should narrow down to 250 candidate substances out of 10,000 candidates, enter the non-clinical trial stage using cells and animals, choose candidates fewer than 10, and go through phase-3 trials in humans.

Lee Dong-ho, who will lead the AI-based drug development support center of the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association, speaks at a news conference in Seoul, Monday.

It takes about 10 to 15 years on average and more than 1 trillion won ($$929 million) investment to develop a new drug. Individual drugmakers have to take huge risks and funds.

In contrast, AI is expected to shorten the time for new drug candidates, which usually takes two to three years, and screen out substances with potential side effects so that the success rate can go up, observers said.

Indeed, an AI-based discovery of new drug candidate substances has been reported overseas.

Insilico Medicine is studying on longevity using AI, after concluding a research agreement with Kyungpook University Hospital and Gachon University Gil Medical Center, according to the Korea Communications Agency. The U.S. company reportedly discovered two new drug candidates with potential efficacy on Ebola in just one day using AI called AtomWise.

To catch up with latest global trends, the KPBMA said it would establish a support center for AI-based new drug development next year for member companies.

The project group will draw up detailed strategies to build the center, introduce an AI-platform and operate it to offer related service to the pharmaceutical industry.

In the long term, the KPBMA will accumulate AI-related experiences to lay the groundwork for the local development of new drugs, the association said.

“Although there are many AI service providers in the world, it is not easy for pharmaceutical firms to make direct contact with them individually and utilize AI for new drug development,” said Lee Dong-ho, head of the project group and a professor at Asan Medical Center.

The project group includes 17 local drugmakers such as Hanmi Pharmaceutical, Yuhan Corp., Daewoong Pharmaceutical, GC Pharma, and Chong Kun Dang. The Korea Health Industry Development Institute and an AI development firm are also in the group.


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