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Collaborating with Microsoft to reinvent how medicines are made

Picture of author Herman De Prins
Posted by
Herman De Prins, Information Technology

Our ambition at UCB is to transform the lives of people living with severe diseases in immunology and neurology. We want to use all the scientific advances at our disposal to develop life-changing therapies that will help patients live their lives to their fullest.

We also believe in partnership for greater impact. Our scientists collaborate with an open approach to innovation. And that equips us to meet today’s biggest healthcare challenges.

And that is why I am so excited about our new collaboration with Microsoft. We’re combining our deep knowledge in bioscience with Microsoft’s unmatched expertise in computer science and AI to reinvent how we create new medicines.

To give you a bit of history, our new collaboration with Microsoft builds on a series of work we’ve been doing with Microsoft, of which one was the recent COVID Moonshot project. Our medicinal and computational chemists contributed compound designs to this worldwide open-science project to create an orally bioavailable anti-viral for COVID-19.

We collaborated with Microsoft AI for Health during this project, using Microsoft Azure to complete an extensive computational screening and compound design. And I am proud to say we contributed the most potent series of compounds to the project. What’s more, we completed the screening and compound design in just three days—thanks to the support of Microsoft’s technology.

After all, many areas of drug discovery require us to analyze high-dimensional datasets or multi-modal unstructured information. And Microsoft’s applied scientists and AI algorithms can help us discover new correlations and patterns within those high-dimensional datasets and multi-modal information in a relatively short space of time.

These discoveries could help us in so many different ways. For example, they could help us explore a vast chemical space, test many hypotheses and identify more effective molecules. Or they could help us bring new therapeutics to market quicker.

They could also help us identify the causes of disease at a molecular level or understand what makes a patient’s journey unique. And that would allow us to personalize and differentiate therapeutics so that they have a bigger impact on our patients’ lives—and do that in a sustainable way.

We are standing at the edge of a new beginning in medicine development. With Microsoft at our side, we will harness data and technology alongside human expertise and creativity to uncover new insights, understand diseases better, enhance patient experiences and develop more personal and more effective patient care.

I can’t wait to see what our collaboration brings…

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Posted by Eddy Warrand , 6 March 2021

I wish you great successes in the development of this program of which I am a strong believer.
It is clear that only through joint efforts between scientists and IT specialists that we will be able to develop quicker and better solutions for those who need it. AI, machine learning and science in a combined effort is the winning team of the future!