Merck KGaA, Iktos Enter AI Discovery Partnership

Collaboration gives Merck KGaA access to Iktos AI technology across three drug discovery projects.

Merck KGaA has formed a collaboration agreement with Iktos for the use of its generative modelling artificial intelligence (AI) technology, in order to facilitate the rapid and cost-effective discovery and design of promising new compounds.

"This agreement is another illustration of how we aim to enrich our discovery engine with strategic technology-focused collaborations," said Belén Garijo, chief executive officer, healthcare, Merck KGaA. "Artificial intelligence is emerging as a pillar in the biopharmaceutical R&D model, giving us exponential opportunity to complement our existing expertise with further speed and better precision. For patients, this could mean faster access to novel treatment options."

Iktos' AI technology, which is based on deep generative models, helps bring speed and efficiency to the drug discovery process, by automatically designing virtual novel molecules that have desired activities for treating a given disease. This tackles one of the key challenges in drug design: rapid identification of molecules which simultaneously satisfy multiple drug-like criteria for clinical testing. The technology is already successfully established in other fields, such as image processing and automatic translation, but has only recently been applied to chemistry.

"We are thrilled that Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is collaborating with Iktos to further accelerate its drug discovery capabilities," said Yann Gaston-Mathé, president and chief executive officer, Iktos. "In a short space of time, our technology has successfully enabled huge progress and we are eager to apply the enormous possibilities it holds to help Merck KGaA with the successful design of new therapeutic options."


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