Novo Nordisk and Microsoft collaborate to accelerate drug discovery and development using big data and artificial intelligence

Novo Nordisk and Microsoft have entered a new strategic collaboration to combine Microsoft’s computational services, cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) with Novo Nordisk’s drug discovery, development and data science capabilities.

Through the partnership, Microsoft is providing AI technology, foundational science models and expertise and is working alongside Novo Nordisk’s data scientists and domain experts from early research and development areas to accelerate Novo Nordisk’s R&D.

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“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,” said Lars Fogh Iversen, senior vice president, Digital Science & Innovation at Novo Nordisk. “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.”

“The collaboration with Novo Nordisk is a great opportunity for us to collectively advance the state of the art of AI itself and apply it in a way that amplifies the creativity of human experts,” said Vijay Mital, corporate vice president, AI Architecture & Strategy in Microsoft’s Technology & Research division. “To achieve this ambition, AI needs to learn from every type of information that subject matter experts find valuable and that requires the type of close interaction between multiple disciplines we see in this partnership.”

AI models arising from the collaboration will be applied to a range of use cases of which the first two are in execution.

One use case is focused on automated summarization and analysis of information from sources such as literature, patents, scientific reports and discussion forums in order to gain novel scientific insights.

A second use case aims to develop models that predict a person’s risk of developing atherosclerosis, a cardiovascular disease caused by build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls. The AI will also be used to identify novel targets and establish biomarkers of the disease.

The companies are taking a platform approach to AI where a set of large models are trained for multiple tasks. This will allow new projects and use cases to be initiated on a continuous basis throughout the multi-year collaboration between the companies.

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