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The Future of Drug Discovery: AI, Automation and Beyond

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“It all started in the 1950s with the famous mathematician Alan Turing, who asked the question – can machines think?” – Pieter Peeters, Janssen Research & Development.

In a recent interview with Technology Networks, Pieter Peeters, Leader of High Dimensional Biology and Discovery Data Sciences Group at Janssen Research & Development, discusses the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI), and how it can be used to discover, develop and test new drugs.

“Artificial intelligence is a discipline in computer science that deals with building smart computer algorithms that mimic the things we typically associate with the human brain,” explains Peeters.

“Personally, I don’t like the term artificial intelligence, because I think we still have a way to go before machines can be said to have real intelligence, but we are heading in that direction.”

So, what has changed since the 1950s, and how is AI now integrated into many industries, including drug discovery? Peeters explains that AI’s ability to influence these industries, is due to developments in three main areas – data volume and accessibility, hardware, and the algorithms themselves.

“AI is affecting every aspect of the pharmaceutical industry, from the very early drug discovery aspects, all the way through to how we do clinical development and bring medicines to patients,” – Pieter Peeters, Janssen Research & Development.
Peeter explains that a branch of AI, known as natural language processing, is helping scientists mine vast amounts of biomedical literature in a more effective way. This provides drug discovery teams with insight into how diseases manifest – information that can be exploited to develop treatments. AI also impacts the later stages of drug development, the way clinical trials are run, the way participants are recruited to the studies, and also the way these participants are monitored.

Watch our interview with Pieter Peeters below to discover, in more detail, how AI is affecting the way drugs are discovered, tested, and provided to patients.

Watch some of the other “Exploring Drug Discovery” episodes to learn more about the drug development process more broadly.

Visit our 
drug development hub page for a comprehensive overview of the steps involved when taking a drug from bench to bedside.