A North Carolina-based startup focused on QC could be ‘first in flight’ with a successful drug discovery model
Two of the greatest gifts given to humanity have already been realized. Although they may not be at the stage to help us immediately, with advances slowly happening, it won’t be long before we see tangible results from them. AI and quantum computing (QC) are bywords for what is great in today’s tech world, innovations so far ahead of what has come before that it is difficult to see how we could have done without them.
But we did. And thrive we did, too.
Researchers are trying to bring QC to the pinnacle of its efficacy, otherwise known as ‘quantum advantage’, a concept where a quantum computer can compute complex calculations at a much faster rate than anything ever done on a classical computer. This breakthrough could assist achievement in AI like nothing before has.
Specific areas where QC can help AI tackle intractable problems are in data science and drug discovery.
With the Covid-19 pandemic still looming large with no sign of going away, the latter will be something most of the world’s population prays for.
One startup, POLARISqb — a Durham-based biotechnology startup — is working to ‘revolutionize drug design by joining Quantum Computing with AI and Precision Medicine.’
This is a worthy cause and business strategy, yet one that in essence will be very difficult to achieve.
Founded in early 2020 by CEO Shahar Keinan and CTO Bill Shipman, the startup’s lofty plans have come at just the right time. Only last month, POLARISqb launched — in collaboration with Fujitsu — its platform.
By placing physics, biology and chemistry together by way of QC, genetics and molecular drugs symbiosis, CEO Keinan ‘hopes to ‘create and build a unique IP portfolio and change the way new drugs are developed’.
And Keinan is no slouch, either.
With a Ph.D. in chemistry from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, she is an expert leader with years of experience in the field of computational chemistry. She also has excellent communication skills while being adept at bringing commercial goals and scientific objectives to realization.
Maybe more impressive, however, is the three patents she holds and the nearly 100 academic publications she has published since the mid-1990s on computational chemistry, translational science and drug discovery/design.
We’re transforming health for people everywhere, by the fast creation of drug blueprints for all human proteins, disease pathways, genetic mutations and pathogens.
CTO Shipman, on the other hand, has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in computer science from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
Before co-founding POLARISqb, Shipman had a six-year stint as director of cloud computing at Cloud Pharmaceuticals, North Carolina. A skilled programmer in Python, Java, SQL, and C#, Shipman has also a handful of publications to his name and shares a patent with his Polarisqb co-founder, Keinan.
The future, then, is theirs for the taking. The current drug discovery modus operandi, from realization, trials to market, can sometimes be a decade-long struggle costing billions of dollars.
And who has that kind of time and money?
Keinan and Shipman’s plan is a good one. Only market forces, investment (which is reported as modest to date) opportunities and whether they can raise a great supporting team stand in their way.