By Sy Mukherjee
March 19, 2019

Happy Tuesday, readers.

We’ve written extensively about the ways that drug makers are trying to harness artificial intelligence to create new therapies. There’s a full-on feature on the matter in the latest Fortune issue.

Tiernan Ray writes on the various challenges and promises for machine learning, artificial intelligence, and the like when it comes to pharma R&D – especially when it comes to creating new uses for old drugs.

Here’s just a taste of what Ray discussed with Daniel Cohen, a genomics and Big Data pioneer who is an enthusiastic artificial intelligence evangelist (and biotech executive):

“Any protein in the body has many different functions, not only one,” says [Cohen], “just as you are a person who has many functions in the population, not just one.” The phenomenon Cohen is describing is “pleiotropy,” the capacity of a single gene to have multiple, seemingly unrelated effects. It is one of the complexities of disease that has repeatedly frustrated medical researchers in their quest for therapies for the most stubborn illnesses.

Cohen not only appreciates pleiotropy’s significance: He believes that Pharnext and other drugmakers may soon exploit it—with a powerful boost from artificial intelligence. By embracing the body’s complexity, and by using A.I. to more methodically analyze and map the way the chain reactions of disease sweep through the body, he hopes to develop combinations of drugs tuned to attack a plethora of medical conditions.

I encourage you to read the whole story.

And in the meantime, read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


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