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Glaxo Finds a Rich Vein to Mine With Supercomputers

  • Partnership with academia will use AI to sift through flops
  • Drugmaker mining failures ‘because that’s where the data are’
Photographer: Balint Porneczi/Bloomberg

Each year, drugmakers shelve, write off or discard thousands of possible treatments that don’t appear to have value in the clinic. To GlaxoSmithKline Plc, those failures are a rich vein ready for prospecting.

Glaxo is turning to supercomputers to trace the paths of millions of unsuccessful drugs, hoping to find a quicker course to the patient bedside and cut costs. The U.K.’s biggest pharmaceutical company is joining with U.S. government and university researchers in a bid to shrink the journey from identifying a biological target to finding a drug that hits it. It’s often a six-year process. Glaxo wants to do it in one.