Merck KGaA to use Iktos AI technology across three drug discovery projects

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is collaborating with Iktos, a French start-up company specialized in artificial intelligence (AI) for new drug design, to further accelerate its drug discovery capabilities.

Under The collaboration agreement will enable Merck to use Iktos generative modelling AI technology to facilitate the rapid and cost-effective discovery and design of new compounds.

The agreement is part of Merck KGaA’s R&D strategy to enhance rug discovery with strategic technology-focused collaborations.

Iktos president and CEO Yann Gaston-Mathé said: “We are thrilled that Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, is collaborating with Iktos to further accelerate its drug discovery capabilities.

“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, Darmstadt, Germany with the successful design of new therapeutic options.”

Based on deep generative models, Iktos AI technology will accelerate drug discovery process through automatically designing virtual novel molecules with desired activities to treat a given disease.

The generative modeling technology is said to be successfully used in other fields such as image processing and automatic translation. Recently, it has also been applied to chemistry.

During the first half of this year, Iktos is also planning to launch its Makya SaaS software. It will be provided as a beta-test version to the customers for testing.

Merck KGaA executive board member and healthcare CEO Belén Garijo said: “This agreement is another illustration of how we aim to enrich our discovery engine with strategic technology-focused collaborations.

“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.”

Iktos, which was incorporated in October 2016, is specialized in the development of AI solutions for chemical research, specifically medicinal chemistry and new drug design.

The firm’s technology enables to design molecules, which are optimized in silico to meet all the success criteria of a small molecule discovery project.

Merck KGaA is a major science and technology firm that operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. The company generated sales of €14.8bn in 66 countries in 2018.

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