UK-based biotech company Exscientia is expanding its partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to advance its advanced drug discovery and automation platform.

Under the expanded partnership, the British biotech company will use the cloud provider’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) services.

Exscientia’s platform is powered by AWS’s generative AI models and the scalability and flexibility to securely, and rapidly design drug candidates that better target specific diseases.

It supports AWS’ Design-Make-Test-Learn (DMTL) loops and spans generative AI, active learning, ML, physics-based systems and other predictive methods.

The platform also uses large language models through Amazon Bedrock, a fully managed service that enables high-performing foundation models from AI startups and Amazon.

By closing the loop of virtual design and physical experimentation on AWS, Exscientia aims to benefit its internal discovery projects along with current and future collaborations.

Exscientia chief technology officer John Overington said: “Extending our collaboration with AWS beyond our DesignStudio to include the robotic automation of synthesis and testing of our molecular designs was the logical next step for Exscientia.

“We were seeking a solution that had flexibility and scalability, combined with high performance and generative AI capabilities. We also wanted a collaborator that is creative and passionate about life sciences. AWS ticks all of these boxes.”

Exscientia said that the pace of drug discovery is hampered by conventional approaches, which involve outsourcing chemical synthesis and biological testing to contract research organisations.

The company will deploy generative AI in its DesignStudio to learn rather than to screen for discoveries in extensive chemical space.

It will then deploy its UK-based AutomationStudio to produce and test high-potential drug candidates identified by DesignStudio, using advanced robotics.

The testing data from the AutomationStudio is fed back to the DesignStudio to further improve the generative AI algorithms, said the biotech company.

Furthermore, Exscientia aims to advance the pace of drug development by impacting both the screening stage and the synthesis and testing stage of drug discovery.

Amazon Web Services Worldwide healthcare and life sciences tech strategist, principal Patrick Lamplé said: “We’re excited that Exscientia is expanding its use of AWS’ generative AI and ML solutions to further speed up the discovery of new treatments for patients.

“The use of AI is also enabling Exscientia to automate their labs and processes, which will help to lower the costs associated with drug development.”

Exscientia interim CEO and chief scientific officer David Hallett said: “We believe that working with AWS will accelerate the achievement of our goal to deliver higher-quality, precision-designed future therapies to patients in need, faster.”