London — The world’s leading drug companies are turning to artificial intelligence to improve the hit-and-miss business of finding new medicines, with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) unveiling a new $43m deal in the field on Sunday. Other pharmaceutical giants including Merck & Co, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi are also exploring the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to help streamline the drug discovery process. The aim is to harness modern supercomputers and machine learning systems to predict how molecules will behave and how likely they are to make a useful drug, thereby saving time and money on unnecessary tests. AI systems already play a central role in other hi-tech areas such as the development of driverless cars and facial recognition software. "Many large pharmaceutical companies are starting to realise the potential of this approach and how it can help improve efficiencies," said Andrew Hopkins, CEO of privately owned Exscientia, which announced the new tie-up with GSK. Hopk...

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