It’s during times like these that rapid drug discovery methods become all-important. Forget about the SpaceX Nasa launch seen around the world. Because though it was exciting and shows humanity still has the will and intelligence to go into space, there are far greater challenges facing mankind: eradicating COVID-19 for one. The faster we find a vaccine — or the moonshot of a complete cure — the quicker we can get back to living the way we did before the global lockdown.
Whatever happens, we need clever people leading innovative companies that have the resources and knowhow to complete the task at hand.
AI has been a catalyst for progress in drug discovery for some years. Yet, with the advent of quantum computing (QC) onto the scene, the headway already made can be exponentially greater.
Startups ApexQubit, Entropica Labs, HQS Quantum Simulations, Menten AI, ProteinQure, and Rahko are all early birds in drug discovery utilizing the magic of QC.
Another to note is QSimulate. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the startup was founded in 2018 by Toru Shiozaki and Garnet Chan.
‘Bringing the power of quantitative simulations to solve pressing problems in the pharmaceutical and chemistry spaces.’
The startup’s ultimate goal is to empower quantitative simulations that combat some of the biggest problems within the chemistry and pharmaceutical sectors.
Already QSimulate can boast a collaboration with Amgen, a multinational biopharmaceutical company. The deal, according to the startup’s website, will ‘integrate large-scale, accurate quantum mechanics with drug discovery.’
But QSimulate aims for more. Cofounder Garnet Chan, a professor of chemistry at Caltech and chief scientific advisor at QSimulate, had this to say about the startup’s ambitions:
‘QSimulate plans to make their software and expertise available not only to the field of drug discovery but also to such areas as material science and chemicals. Broadly, we believe we are just at the early cusp of where the integration of quantum calculations with huge cloud resources will help change the future.’
CEO Toru Shiozaki, who obtained a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo, has academic experience as a research fellow at the University of Stuttgart and as an assistant professor at Northwestern University.
Notwithstanding the Amgen collaboration, QSimulate can also boast partnerships with tech giants Google and its AI Quantum Lab and Amazon (AWS) as part of its own Amazon Quantum Solution Lab.
The partnership at AWS in particular means QSimulate joins QC startups such as Rigetti and Zapata assisting Bezos et al in implementing solutions based on quantum information systems to their customers.
It’s still early days for Shiozaki and his team in Cambridge, but the initial signals are positive. Taking the expertise off of AWS, Google and Amgen, the startup can only grow.
Let’s hope after this pandemic is over, startups like QSimulate and others will have played their part. And if they haven’t, the way will be open for them to make a positive impact on future developments in drug discovery.