AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical company renowned for developing one of the COVID-19 vaccines, has entered into a partnership with Absci, a U.S.-based artificial intelligence (AI) biologics firm. The collaboration involves an investment of up to $247 million from AstraZeneca for research and development, milestone payments, and an upfront fee for Absci. The primary objective is to leverage a zero-shot generative AI model to design antibodies for treating cancer, with a focus on both creating new therapeutic antibodies and improving existing ones. The Financial Times report, dated December 3, did not specify the specific types of cancer targeted by the collaboration.

Absci’s AI technology, which screens “billions of cells” weekly, aims to accelerate the biologics discovery process, turning antibodies into lab-validated candidates within six weeks. AstraZeneca sees the collaboration as a means to enhance the diversity and success rate of its biologics discovery, with senior vice president Puja Sapra emphasizing the role of AI in accelerating the company’s processes. Absci CEO Sean McClain has confirmed the partnership, expressing confidence that AstraZeneca’s involvement will amplify the impact of their AI work in this innovative approach to cancer antibody development.

This collaboration exemplifies the growing trend of incorporating AI into the healthcare industry, where its potential to expedite research and enhance data analysis accuracy is becoming increasingly recognized. In November, Hong Kong’s Hospital Authority initiated an AI pilot program to combat multidrug-resistant organisms, demonstrating the broader applications of AI in addressing complex healthcare challenges.

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