Merck Announces Collaboration With Iktos for Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology


2019/3/15 09:25

Merck Announces Collaboration With Iktos for Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) Technology


DARMSTADT, Germany, March 15, 2019 /PRNewswire=KYODO JBN/ --

Not intended for US, Canada and UK-based media

- Collaboration agreement enables Merck access to Iktos AI technology across

three drug discovery projects

- Generative modelling AI technology enables rapid and cost-effective design of

novel drugs

- Agreement is part of Merck's R&D strategy to advance drug discovery with

strategic technology-focused collaborations

Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced 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,

Member of the Executive Board and CEO Healthcare, Merck. "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 is collaborating with Iktos to further accelerate

its drug discovery capabilities," commented Yann Gaston-Mathé, President and

CEO of 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 with the successful design of new therapeutic options."

Merck continues to leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to

drive transformative approaches. This follows the announcement, in December

2018, of a year-long licencing agreement with Cyclica Inc. for the use of its

AI-augmented proteome screening platform, Ligand Express®. Merck also recently

announced that it has been granted a U.S. Patent for a novel combination of AI

and Blockchain Technology, aimed at providing a solution for the secure

integration of physical products into the digital world.

About Iktos

Incorporated in October 2016, Iktos is a French start-up company specialized in

the development of artificial intelligence solutions applied to chemical

research, more specifically medicinal chemistry and new drug design. Iktos is

developing a proprietary and innovative solution based on deep learning

generative models, which enables, using existing data, to design molecules that

are optimized in silico to meet all the success criteria of a small molecule

discovery project. The use of Iktos technology enables major productivity gains

in upstream pharmaceutical R&D. Iktos offers its technology both as

professional services and as a SaaS software platform, Makya™.

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About Merck

Merck, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare,

life science and performance materials. Around 52,000 employees work to make a

positive difference to millions of people's lives every day by creating more

joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies

and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling

the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2018, Merck

generated sales of € 14.8 billion in 66 countries.

Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to

Merck's technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived

since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of

the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name

and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the

business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma

in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.


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SOURCE: Merck