Google parent company Alphabet is starting a new company called Isomorphic Labs to discover new medicines with artificial intelligence. Demis Hassabis is the company’s CEO for the time being, but will also remain CEO of Alphabet’s DeepMind.
Isomorphic Labs builds on the developments of sister company DeepMind, which also partly focuses on medical science in combination with AI. Hassabis is facilitating the collaboration between the two companies indefinitely, with the primary focus of establishing a platform for understanding biological systems through artificial intelligence. In this way, new ways to treat diseases must be discovered, explains the Isomorphic Labs in a blog post. The company is currently hiring experts in areas such as AI, biology and medical chemistry.
One of the main inventions of sister company DeepMind is AlphaFold. This technology makes it possible by means of artificial intelligence to predict the 3D structure of proteins in the human body down to the atomic level based on the sequence of amino acids. The shapes of proteins say a lot about their functions. Isomorphic Labs can use this technology, which was made open source by DeepMind, to develop targeted medicines.
The company’s name refers to the apparent ‘isomorphic’ connection between biology and information science; two fields with many similarities but with different origins. According to Hassabis, biology is far too complex to be expressed in ‘handy mathematical formulas’. On the other hand, he hopes that artificial intelligence will fit in well with biology and cites mathematics as the correct description language for physics as an example.
Image via Isomorphic Labs/Alphabet