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4 June, 2020 - 09:42 By Tony Quested

Riverlane and Astex form quantum chemistry alliance

Quantum computing software specialist Riverlane is collaborating with Cambridge neighbour and world-leading fragment-based drug discovery company Astex to demonstrate the future potential of quantum chemistry.

Riverlane builds ground-breaking software to unleash the power of quantum computers. Chemistry is a key application in which quantum computing can be of significant value, as high-level quantum chemistry calculations can be solved far faster than using classical methods.

World leaders in drug discovery and development, Astex Pharmaceuticals apply innovative solutions to treat cancer and diseases of the central nervous system.

The two companies are combining their expertise in quantum computing software and quantum chemistry applications to speed up drug development and move us closer to quantum advantage.

As part of the collaboration, Astex is funding a post-doctoral research scientist at Riverlane. They will apply very high levels of quantum theory to study the properties of covalent drugs, in which protein function is blocked by the formation of a specific chemical bond.

So far in this field of research, only empirical methods and relatively low levels of quantum theory have been applied. Riverlane will provide access to specialised quantum software to enable simulations of the target drug-protein complexes.

Dave Plant, Principal Research Scientist at Riverlane, said: “This collaboration will produce newly enhanced quantum chemical calculations to drive efficiencies in the drug discovery process. It will hopefully lead to the next generation of quantum inspired pharmaceutical products.”

Chris Murray, SVP of Discovery Technology at Astex added: "We are excited about the prospect of exploring quantum computing in drug discovery applications. 

“It offers the opportunity to deliver much more accurate calculations of the energetics associated with the interaction of drugs with biological molecules, leading to potential improvements in drug discovery productivity.”

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