2023-01-13| Partnerships

Bayer Signs Up To Google Cloud To Boost Drug Discovery

by Joy Lin
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Bayer is planning to boost its early drug discovery efforts with Google Cloud’s industrial-grade computing workhorses — its Tensorflow Processing Units (TPUs). 

TPUs are accelerators designed to run cutting-edge machine learning models and computationally-intensive workloads. Bayer is hoping to apply this technology to enhance its quantum chemistry calculations. 

“Bayer’s aspiration to be among the leading innovators drives us to continue to invest in novel and disruptive technologies to solve complex problems,” said Bijoy Sagar, chief information and digital transformation officer at Bayer AG. 

“Partnering with Google Cloud on TPU-powered quantum chemistry complements our ambition to work with industry leaders and experts to quickly deliver on digital transformation.”

Related Article: JPM23: More Deals as JP Morgan Healthcare Conference 2023 Enters the Third Day

Quantum Chemistry Could Accelerate Drug Discovery

Modeling the dynamic interactions between a potential drug molecule and its target in a biological environment requires a lot of processor power. To ensure the selectivity of the candidate, it has to be tested against multiple targets too. 

While quantum chemistry sounds far-fetched, it is basically the in-silico modeling of biological and chemical systems with high accuracy, which can help identify new drug candidates. Besides powering up Bayer’s modeling capacity, the collaboration with Google Cloud aims to demonstrate fully quantum mechanical modeling of molecular interactions between proteins and ligands.

The results could determine the scientific and economic viability of large-scale density functional theory (DFT) calculations for practical applications. 

“Accelerating drug discovery may be one of the most important applications for AI and high-performance computing in the healthcare industry,” said Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud. 

“Bringing Bayer’s powerful research and development capabilities together with our industry-leading infrastructure has the potential to unlock new discoveries—with greater accuracy and speed—helping to get new medicines to patients faster.”

Schrödinger As A Client  

Google Cloud’s collaboration with Bayer bears striking similarities with a three-year collaboration between the cloud provider and Schrödinger, which specializes in digital drug discovery. 

Schrödinger has used thousands of Google Cloud’s processors to simulate billions of potential drug molecules. 

Its use of the technology has extended into the COVID-19 pandemic, with the company participating in a large-scale effort to identify novel antivirals alongside Takeda, Novartis, Gilead, and WuXi AppTec. 

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