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What if AI could generate novel drugs to target any disease, overnight, ready for clinical trials? 


What if it were able to design a drug that was perfect specifically for you? 


But before we dive into how AI will disrupt today’s multi-trillion-dollar pharma industry, it’s worth noting how monolithic and slow today’s pharma industry actually is:


3 Gruesome Facts about Today’s Pharma Industry:


#1. Today, the global pharmaceutical market—one of the slowest, most monolithic industries to adapt—generated roughly $1.6 trillion in revenue in 2023. The top 10 pharmaceutical companies alone generated revenues of nearly $550 billion last year.

#2. At the same time, it currently costs more than $2.5 billion (sometimes up to $12 billion) and takes over 10 years to bring a new drug to market. 

#3. Meanwhile, 9 out of 10 drugs entering Phase I clinical trials will never reach patients.

But all of this is about to change, unleashing what you might call “pharmaceutical abundance.”


This will happen as AI converges with massive data sets in everything from gene expression to blood biomarkers, enabling novel drug discovery that is 100-fold cheaper, 100-fold faster, and more intelligently targeted.


In today’s blog, I’ll discuss 3 companies that are using AI for better drug discovery and revolutionizing medicine: Insilico Medicine, Google DeepMind, and SandboxAQ.  


Let’s dive in…


Insilico Medicine: Revolutionizing Drug Discovery with AI

Insilico Medicine is on a mission to revolutionize the traditionally slow and costly process of drug discovery by harnessing the power of AI. Founded by Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, Insilico uses AI to rapidly identify novel drug targets, test drug candidates, and output those that are ideal for further development. (Full disclosure: My venture capital firm BOLD is an investor in Insilico Medicine.)

What sets Insilico apart is their unique approach to AI, leveraging generative adversarial networks (GANs) to accomplish with just 50 people what a typical drug company does with 5,000

As Dr. Zhavoronkov asks:

"What if AI could find better drug targets, faster? And what if it could create new drugs that might work on these targets for us?"

Insilico's recent milestones speak for themselves. In April 2023, the FDA cleared Insilico to begin trials of an AI-designed small-molecule treatment, which they later licensed to Exelixis. June 2023 saw the first patient dosed in a Phase 2 trial of an AI-designed treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

In November 2023, Insilico's AI-powered target-discovery engine, PandaOmics, identified "dual purpose" targets for both anti-aging and brain tumor treatments.

Most recently, in April 2024, Insilico's AI-designed drug ISM3412 received FDA IND approval, paving the way for a Phase I multicenter, open-label study in adult subjects with locally advanced and metastatic solid tumors. And in May 2024, Insilico partnered with NVIDIA to unveil a new LLM transformer, nach0, for solving biological and chemical tasks.


AlphaFold 3: Unlocking the Secrets of Life’s Building Blocks

Inside every cell are billions of molecular machines made up of proteins, DNA, and other molecules (lipids, carbohydrates). To truly understand life's processes, we need to see how these molecules interact together.

Enter AlphaFold-3.

In May 2024, Google DeepMind unveiled this revolutionary model that predicts the structure and interactions of all life's molecules with unprecedented accuracy. AlphaFold-3 improves prediction accuracy by at least 50% compared to existing methods, and even doubles it for some important categories.

DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis says, "Properties of biology emerge through the interactions between different molecules in the cell. You can think about AlphaFold 3 as our first big sort of step towards that."

Building on the groundbreaking AlphaFold-2, which has already been used by millions of researchers for discoveries in areas like malaria vaccines and cancer treatments, AlphaFold-3 goes beyond proteins to a broad spectrum of biomolecules. This leap could unlock more transformative science, from developing biorenewable materials and more resilient crops, to accelerating drug design and genomics research.

The implications for drug discovery are game-changing. As Max Jaderberg from Isomorphic Labs, a subsidiary of Alphabet founded by Hassabis, explains:

"It allows our scientists, our drug designers, to create and test hypotheses at the atomic level, and then within seconds produce highly accurate structure predictions… This is compared to the months or even years it might take to do this experimentally."


SandboxAQ: Transforming Drug Discovery with AI & Simulation

My dear friend Jack Hidary, CEO of SandboxAQ, has highlighted the need for more effective treatments for the 7,000+ diseases that lack them. 

Hidary emphasizes: 

"Roughly 88% of drugs that reach clinical trials fail to make it through and gain approval."

SandboxAQ is addressing this challenge with its unique approach combining AI and simulation. By digitally modeling biopharma compounds and simulating their interactions with molecular targets, the company generates data to develop treatments for the most challenging illnesses.

In November 2023, SandboxAQ partnered with NVIDIA to predict chemical reactions for drug discovery. 

The January 2024 acquisition of Good Chemistry further strengthened SandboxAQ's position, integrating the firm's software into its enterprise portfolio.

SandboxAQ's computational tools are helping to revolutionize the pharmaceutical industry by reducing the time, cost, and risk of identifying promising compounds. 

As Nadia Harhen, General Manager of Simulation and Optimization at SandboxAQ, explains, "We see hundreds and hundreds of clinical trial failures, and they're labeled undruggable because no one's been able to drug them yet because it's complicated—it's too complex to drug…That's what we build specialized tooling to tackle, and that specialized tooling we're going to make available on this platform."

During my upcoming Longevity Platinum Trip, I’ll be featuring in-depth conversations with several leading companies and scientists in AI-powered drug discovery, including:

  • Rubedo Life Sciences – Co-Founder & CEO, Marco Quarta, PhD: A biotech company that leverages machine learning and single-cell RNA sequencing to develop innovative therapeutics for age-related diseases such as psoriasis and scleroderma.

  • Verge Genomics – Founder & CEO, Alice Zhang: An AI-driven biotech company that is revolutionizing drug discovery with their platform, CONVERGE®, particularly for debilitating conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

  • BioAge Labs – Co-Founder & CEO, Kristen Fortney, PhD: A pioneering biotech company that uses AI to enhance drug discovery and development, with a primary focus on therapies for aging and metabolic diseases. BioAge Labs is currently focusing on metabolic disease: an oral drug aimed at enhancing weight loss and improving metabolic health (Azelaprag).

  • Phenome Health – Lee Hood, MD, PhD (CEO) & James Yurkovich, PhD (Chief Innovation Officer): A cutting-edge biotech company that combines multi-omics, AI, and large-scale data to combat aging. The company is led by pioneers in the fields of systems biology research and personalized medicine and has established a partnership with the Buck Institute for Research on Aging.


Why This Matters


Inefficient, slow-to-innovate, and risk-averse industries (like pharma) will be disrupted by leaders and tech coming from outside their normal ranks, in this case from today’s AI geeks.


If you are like me and desire to maximize your healthspan (and longevity), then you’re likely to realize that optimizing your sleep, diet, and exercise can only get you so far... perhaps to a healthy 90 or 100 years old, but it’s unlikely to get you further.


To get beyond 100 and strive towards “Longevity Escape Velocity,” we’re going to need to understand (on a molecular level) why each of us ages and design the drugs that slow that process down and perhaps even reverse it.


For me, AI is the most important technology speeding us toward an extended healthspan future, and companies like Insilico, DeepMind, and Sandbox AQ are leading that charge.


Want to learn about how to increase your healthspan? And identify the top longevity-related investment opportunities available?

If yes, then consider joining me on my 2024 Platinum Longevity Trip.

I'm running two VIP trips I call my “Platinum Longevity Trip” covering top scientists, startups, labs, and CEOs in San Francisco and San Diego. I do the same trip twice for up to 40 participants: Sept. 11 - 15, 2024 or Oct. 9 - 13, 2024.

Each trip is a 5-Star/5-Day deep dive into the cutting-edge world of biotech/longevity and age-reversal.

We’ll cover everything from Advanced Regenerative Medicine (AI Drug Discovery, CRISPR, Gene Therapies, etc.) and Disease Management Breakthroughs (Cancer, Genetic Diseases, Diabetes, etc.) to the latest research on the Longevity Basics including how to improve sleep, diet, exercise, and supplements, among others.

You’ll meet with 35 of the most extraordinary scientists, entrepreneurs and leaders shaping the longevity revolution. Here are just a few of them: 

  • Hal Barron, MD: CEO, Altos Labs (Backed by Yuri Milner & Jeff Bezos)

  • Joe Betts-LaCroix: CEO, Retro Biosciences (Backed by Sam Altman)

  • Dr. Catriona "Cat" Jamieson, MD, PhD: UCSD (Cancer Stem Cells research) 

  • Blake Byers, PhD: Co-Founder & CEO, NewLimit (Backed by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong + Blake Byers)

  • Eric Verdin, MD: CEO, Buck Institute (World’s leading Longevity Institute)

  • Stefanie Strathdee, PhD: UCSD (Global authority on Phage research)

  • Helen Messier, PhD/MD: Chief Medical Officer, Fountain Life

  • And many more!

Both trips are identical (capped at 40 participants per trip), during which I spend all 5 days with you as your private guide and provocateur. Through this personalized, action-packed program, my mission is to give you exclusive, first-hand exposure to the major players, scientists, companies, and treatments in the longevity and vitality arena.

Here's what you get

  • All your questions about longevity answered

  • Early investment opportunities to extraordinary biotech startups

  • First-hand insights into the latest longevity breakthroughs and research

  • Early access to advanced diagnostics, state-of-the art therapeutics

  • Exclusive wellness experiences including HIIT/equipment workouts, wearable devices, meditation & breathwork

If you want to learn more about the Platinum Longevity Trip, go here, indicate your interest and we’ll set up an interview!


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70% of all cancers that are fatal turn out to be the result of cancers that are not routinely tested for by today’s medical system. Today, advanced diagnostics are able to evaluate your health on a regular basis, with the goal of finding disease at the earliest stage possible. Every year, I go through a Fountain Life “upload” as part of their APEX Membership program, and I urge you to do the same. Get started with Fountain Life and become the CEO of your health:

Get Started With Fountain Life

I discuss how AI will disrupt medicine and the healthcare industry on my podcast. Here’s a conversation I recently enjoyed:

A Statement From Peter:

My goal with this newsletter is to inspire leaders to play BIG. If that’s you, thank you for being here. If you know someone who can use this, please share it. Together, we can uplift humanity.


Image credit: Photo by Masha Rostovskaya on Unsplash

Peter H. Diamandis

Written by Peter H. Diamandis


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