Ginkgo Bioworks and Google Cloud forge five-year AI and biology partnership

Ginkgo Bioworks’ pioneering capabilities in harnessing vast biological data. [Image courtesy of Ginkgo Bioworks]

Founded in 2008, Ginkgo Bioworks’ stock jumped almost 25% on August 29, hitting $2.22, after unveiling a five-year partnership with Google Cloud. The partnership centers around the development of novel AI tools for biology and biosecurity. In particular, Ginkgo hopes to further its mission to make biology easier to engineer in the AI era.

Opting to make Google Cloud its primary cloud services provider, Ginkgo plans to develop new large language models for biological engineering applications based on Google’s Vertex AI platform. Debuting in 2021 as a framework for streamlining the machine learning lifecycle, Vertex AI has since evolved to incorporate more generative AI capabilities.

Further solidifying the partnership, Google Cloud will also help fund Ginkgo’s development of foundation mod…

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Cellares teams up with Bristol Myers Squibb to explore automated CAR-T cell therapy manufacturing

Less than a week after announcing that it has secured $255 million in Series C funding, South San Francisco-based startup Cellares has revealed that Bristol Myers Squibb has joined its Technology Adoption Partnership (TAP) program. To date, the company has raised more than $355 million in total financing.

As part of the TAP program, Bristol Myers Squibb plans on conducting a proof-of-concept transfer of a CAR-T cell therapy process onto the Cell Shuttle, which the company has called a “factory in a box.”

Cellares plans to use the funding to launch what it dubs the world’s first commercial-scale Integrated Development and Manufacturing Organization (IDMO) smart factory. Koch Disruptive Technologies led the investment round, which included participation from Bristol Myers Squibb, DFJ Growth, Willett Advisors, Eclipse, Decheng Capital and 8VC.

When asked how Cellares managed to receive a large funding round in a difficult financial climate, Gerlinghausen sa…

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Nvidia exec: Generative AI can turn every biologist into a computer scientist — and vice versa

[By ktsdesign/Adobe Stock]

On a recent visit to Nvidia’s headquarters in Santa Clara, I had the chance to speak with Kimberly Powell, the company’s vice president and general manager of healthcare. After asking about the pharma industry’s surging interest in AI, Powell remarked, “Every pharma knows who Nvidia is now.” Curious, I asked her, “How long has that been the case?” Without batting an eye, she replied: “Since December.” While some R&D professionals in pharma were aware of the company, awareness was not pervasive until recently.  The December timing is not a coincidence. OpenAI’s ChatGPT rolled out on November 30, 2022. ChatGPT, which runs on Nvidia hardware, has prompted a reprioritization of AI in the industry. As Powell described it: “From the top down, every group is saying, go do at least two things using AI, and report back. They are really just starting to make it part of the DNA of the c…
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Raising the efficiency floor and innovation ceiling with generative AI in drug discovery

[Image courtesy of ipopba via iStock Photo]

Large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT promise advances that extend beyond capturing public interest. Because transformer models like GPT have an architecture that supports the understanding of language in context, they point to an array of novel possibilities for scientific research. “The transformer architecture is critical,” according to Michael Connell, the chief operating officer at Enthought. In a recent interview, Connell provided a sense of what to expect from generative AI in drug discovery, touching on how these tools could automate mundane tasks, streamline complex scientific workflows and speed drug discovery.

The promises and pitfalls of generative AI in drug discovery

In scientific research, generative AI, of which LLMs are an example, can partly automate tasks such as summarizing academic papers, solving math problems, coding, ensuring qual…

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A deep dive into AWS’s strategy with generative AI and ML in life sciences

[Image Fabrizio/Adobe Stock]

The AI market is witnessing meteoric growth, with projections hinting at a potentially staggering increase over the next decade. Against this backdrop of rapid AI evolution, we recently spoke with Tehsin Syed, general manager of AWS Health. Syed shared that Amazon Web Services (AWS) is seeing growing interest from Big Pharma firms. “Nine of the top 10 pharma companies in the world have a large majority of the workloads running on AWS,” Syed said. The AWS cloud hosts more than 100,000 customers across industries.

AWS aims to provide a broad and deep range of AI services and takes an end-to-end approach to AI that includes infrastructure, software, hardware and services.In an increasingly competitive AI landscape, AWS recently launched a $100 million initiative, the AWS Generative AI Innovation Center, to accelerate enterprise generative AI adoption. As Syed put it, “AWS has a pe…

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SandboxAQ, bearing Alphabet’s DNA, eyes quantum-inspired breakthroughs in drug discovery

[Sakkmesterke/Adobe Stock]

Emerging as a spinoff from Alphabet’s experimental division X, SandboxAQ recently pulled back the curtain on its latest endeavor — the biopharma molecular simulation division AQBioSim. Attracting investments from significant figures like former Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt, who is now the chair of Sandbox AQ, and Inc. founder Marc Benioff’s Time Ventures investment fund. Other backers include T. Rowe Price, Guggenheim Partners and Breyer Capital.

Now, AQBioSim aims to streamline the research and development process with quantum-inspired computing, potentially contributing to the development of treatments for critical diseases, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The company says its technology could shave years off the discovery process.

Earlier this year, SandboxAQ, raised $500 million in funding, aiming to equip businesses with the neces…

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A closer look at the Wyzo high-speed pick-and-place sidebot

The Wyzo robot features a human machine interface designed for ease of use.

The robotics firm Wyzo (Ecublens, Switzerland) recently debuted a novel pick-and-place sidebot, which is suitable for various uses, including lightweight applications within pharmaceutical facilities. Pharmaceutical Processing World recently profiled the robot, which can support up to 80 picks per minute.  

To learn more about the robot, we reached out to Wyzo CEO Frank Souyris, who describes the types of pharmaceutical applications the technology can handle. Souyris also provides information on how the robot can operate side-by-side with humans without protective barriers or performance compromises. 

What kind of pharmaceutical applications do you envision for the Wyzo robot? 

Souyris: Thanks to the high-tech robotic arm and built-in or external vision systems, the Wyzo sidebot is suitable for any type of pharmaceutica…

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Swiss startup Wyzo debuts novel robot that supports pharma applications

The robotics firm Wyzo (Ecublens, Switzerland) has launched what it deems the world’s first pick-and-place sidebot. Supporting pharmaceutical production line applications, the Wyzo robot can work side-by-side with humans without traditional protective barriers.

The robot also supports up to 80 picks per minute.

The Wyzo is also compatible with standard grippers.

The company says that the Wyzo robot occupies one-sixth of the space of a traditional industrial robot. Its footprint is less than 0.5 m2, and the robot measures 1.80 m in height. The small size enables manufacturers to relocate the robot from one workstation to another as needed. Workers can transport it through standard doors or via elevators.

The Wyzo uses sensor technology to monitor nearby human activity. Its software enables it to reduce its operating speed when a human is nearby.

Wyzo also says the robot is easy to program even for operators without prior experience in automa…

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Improving vaccine production with advanced analytics

mRNA vaccine picture courtesy of Wikipedia

This scientific, engineering and logistical achievement that is the COVID-19 vaccine is a feat unparalleled. It’s the perfect example of human ingenuity and how modern advancements can make a difference. A lot of credit, however, has to go to the rise of Industry 4.0 and the use of digital technologies like automation, computer science, and advanced analytics. In fact, automated operations, process simulation, and self-service analytics have helped pharmaceutical production processes become more agile and efficient, contributing to increased production capacity and product quality. This solution has become the production and quality control game-changer by making pharmaceutical companies more adaptive and responsive, thus improving operational processes.

Using time-series data to improve operational performance

Captured from sensors throughout the production line, t…

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Pharma’s been slow to adopt Industry 4.0 — but that could change

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The pharma industry has been relatively slow to embrace concepts such as Industry 4.0, but COVID-19 is serving as a catalyst for sweeping changes within the industry.

The philosophy has roots in a German framework that prioritizes digitization to drive manufacturing efficiency, promising that cyber-physical systems will usher in the next industrial revolution. The Industry 4.0 framework spans connectivity, analytics and AI and integrated automation technologies.

But the deployment of Industry 4.0–inspired technologies has been uneven in the pharma industry. “The industry is pretty cautious,” said John Younes, COO of Litmus Automation, the developer of an industrial edge computing platform.

Get the full story from our sister site, Pharmaceutical Processing World. 

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