WSJ: Accenture, 1QBit and Biogen POC Shows Quantum Computing May Speed Drug Discovery

June 13, 2017

The Wall Street Journal CIO Journal covers biotechnology company Biogen Inc.’s completed proof of concept experiment with Accenture Labs and 1QBit, which shows that the resulting quantum-enabled methods have the potential to speed up drug discovery for diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

“After a two-month proof-of-concept test that took place earlier this year, researchers found that the quantum-enabled method allowed Biogen to more accurately compare molecular structures and get more information about the comparisons than any of its existing methods.

The structure of molecules, in addition to their chemical features, can be used to predict both positive effects of specific drugs, as well as the negative effects, such as the toxicity of a molecule.

With these more accurate comparison tools, Biogen will be able to cut expenses of screening different molecules for use in pharmaceuticals, because a more accurate initial comparison of molecules reduces the amount of trial, error and cost that is spent on drug development in the lab.”

The article goes on to explain that computing molecular matches at scale using a quantum computer is not possible just yet because of the limitations of current quantum processors. The number of qubits created by quantum hardware developers to date remains relatively small, meaning experiments are currently limited to a narrow swath of information.

However, the benefit of the quantum-enabled method developed is that right now, it provides Biogen with more information than existing methods when run on state-of-the-art classical processor, and it will continue to deliver more information for larger problems when used with quantum-computers as they scale.

As quantum computers become more sophisticated and scale to larger, more connected qubits, which this article notes is perhaps as soon as 2018, Biogen will be in a position to immediately harness this technology to speed up drug discovery.

WSJ, CIO Journal – Quantum Computing May Speed Drug Discovery, Biogen Test Suggests  

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