Ian Churcher, VP Drug Discovery recently published a paper in Nature to highlight how organic synthesis could represent an opportunity for the pharmaceuticals industries to improve drug development. He presents the current challenges that the industry needs overcome and explains how new technologies and industry-academia collaborations are essential to progress.
There is an increasing number of varieties of drug agents in clinical use ranging from antibodies and proteins to nucleic acids and, increasingly, cellular and genetic therapies but the majority of drugs on the market and in development today are still small, synthetic molecules made in a chemistry laboratory.
Marwin Segler, senior machine learning researcher at BenevolentAI, shows in his Nature paper how AI can transform the success rate of planning the synthesis of organic molecules – so-called retrosynthesis.
The design of small molecules with bespoke properties is of central importance to drug discovery. However significant challenges yet remain for computational methods, despite recent advances such as deep recurrent networks and reinforcement learning strategies for sequence generation, and it can be difficult to compare results across different works.