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Microsoft and Novo Nordisk Announce Partnership to Further Drug Development with Artificial Intelligence

New AI models will summarize scientific research and predict the likelihood of atherosclerosis

Holden Galusha

Holden Galusha is the associate editor for Lab Manager. He was a freelance contributing writer for Lab Manager before being invited to join the team full-time. Previously, he was the...

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Pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk has recently announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft to enhance drug discovery and development using artificial intelligence (AI) models. This mutually-beneficial collaboration will enable Novo Nordisk to accelerate its research and development efforts, and Microsoft will be able to improve the sophistication of its AI technology.

Taking a “platform approach”, the companies will train a suite of large AI models for a variety of tasks, which will enable the AI to be flexible enough to adapt to new projects and use cases as they are initiated throughout the collaboration.

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This endeavor is launching with two projects. The first project consists of an AI model that will automatically summarize and analyze information from scientific publications, patents, and discussion forums. This will make it easier for researchers to perform meta-analyses on available research to glean new insights. Microsoft has performed similar experiments in the past, such as its 2018 natural language processing AI that could summarize news stories.

The second project aims to construct AI models that can predict the likelihood of an individual developing atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular disease in which fat, cholesterol, and other “plaque” build up on artery walls, restricting blood flow. Research shows that atherosclerosis is the underlying cause of about 50 percent of deaths in westernized nations.

Lars Fogh Iversen, senior vice president, Digital Science & Innovation at Novo Nordisk, comments, “We are very excited about this new partnership that allows us to work closely together with key experts from Microsoft as we look to expand our digital science and AI capabilities. Together, we are on a path to enable faster and scaled use of AI in drug discovery, ultimately leading to more breakthrough innovations and efficiency gain to better serve the needs of patients.”