Google parent Alphabet launches AI-powered drug discovery company

Google's parent company, Alphabet, launched Isomorphic Labs, which will use artificial intelligence to accelerate drug discovery, according to a Nov. 4 blog post written by its CEO, Demis Hassabis.

Five things to know:

  1. The founder and CEO of Alphabet's DeepMind, Mr. Hassabis will temporarily helm Isomorphic Labs. He will serve as CEO for the company's initial phase and will remain as DeepMind's CEO to facilitate collaboration between the companies, the blog post said.

  2. The company will behave as a venture firm, partnering with pharmaceutical and biomedical companies in their drug discovery process. It will use computational and AI methods intended to help scientists accelerate the drug discovery process and seek cures to diseases, according to the post.

  3. "I think biology can be thought of as an information processing system, albeit an extraordinarily complex and dynamic one," Mr. Hassabis said. "Taking this perspective implies there may be a common underlying structure between biology and information science — an isomorphic mapping between the two — hence the name of the company."

  4. Google acquired DeepMind in 2014. The United Kingdom's National Health Service signed a deal in 2015 that gave DeepMind access to pseudonymized patient records to develop patient-monitoring app Streams.

  5. Google and DeepMind are being sued over the lab's handling of the health data of more than 1 million patients in the development of Streams. An NHS patient in the U.K. sued the companies on behalf of roughly 1.6 million patients whose medical records were allegedly obtained by DeepMind without their consent, according to the report. 

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