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'AI technology to halve new drug development period'

New head of Korea AI Center for Drug Discovery and Development vows to introduce AI platform for researchers in 2nd half of this year

Kim Woo-youn, head of the Korea AI Center for Drug Discovery and Development at the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association, speaks in an online press conference on Wednedsay. (Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association)
Kim Woo-youn, head of the Korea AI Center for Drug Discovery and Development at the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association, speaks in an online press conference on Wednedsay. (Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association)
The technology of artificial intelligence will be used in every step of developing drugs to cut the time it takes to discover a new drug in half, the newly appointed leader of the Korea AI Center for Drug Discovery and Development said Wednesday.

“Starting from designing candidate substances, AI technology can set up clinical trials based on biometric data and minimize uncertainty, time and cost by deriving the optimal patient group,” said Kim Woo-youn, head of KAICD at the Korea Pharmaceutical and Bio-Pharma Manufacturers Association in an online press conference.

Referring to the KAICD’s survey, he underlined that the number of local AI startups in the field of developing new drugs reached 38. Of them, 14 received investments worth of 170 billion won ($140 million) in the first half of last year, he added.

“But it’s only in the premature stage. The priority of the AI new drug development market is to come up with a precedent that shows the application of AI technology has cut down the cost of (research and development) by this much,” said Kim.

In efforts to better cooperation between the country’s AI technology and drug development sectors, the KAICD head unveiled the plan to launch an AI platform for researchers developing new drugs in the second half of this year.

The online platform will offer easier access and understanding of AI technology for pharmaceutical chemists who do not have professional knowledge of AI, he said.

Kim added that the KAICD is in the process of setting up a website that provides all-in-one information about AI technology from in and out of the country and AI companies. The website is expected to start running from May.

Pointing out that South Korea’s level of AI technology is recognized on the global stage, he called for the need to lay out more chances of collaboration for drug makers and AI companies.

“If a national-level consortium encompassing industry, academia, research and hospitals is established, the AI new drug development business will surely accelerate,” said Kim.

By Kan Hyeong-woo (hwkan@heraldcorp.com)
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