Rigetti Computing Partners with Riverlane, Astex Pharmaceuticals to Advance Quantum Computing for Drug Discovery

LONDON and Cambridge, England, July 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Rigetti UK announced today it will partner with Riverlane and Astex Pharmaceuticals to develop an integrated application for simulating molecular systems using Rigetti Quantum Cloud Services, paving the way for a commercial application that could transform drug discovery in pharmaceutical R&D. 

“Our consortium brings together a complete quantum supply chain — from hardware to end-user — allowing us to develop a tailor-made solution to address a problem of real value to the pharmaceutical sector,” says Mandy Birch, SVP of Technology Partnerships at Rigetti. “This project lays the groundwork for the commercial application of Rigetti Quantum Cloud Services in the pharmaceutical industry.”

The average cost of discovering a new drug and bringing it to market has tripled since 2010, reaching almost $3bn in 2018. However, soaring R&D costs have not translated into shorter times to market or higher numbers of newly approved drugs.

“We want to solve this problem by using quantum computers to speed up the process of drug discovery,” says Chris Murray, SVP Discovery Technology at Astex. “Quantum computers provide a fundamentally different approach that could enable pharmaceutical companies to identify, screen, and simulate new drugs rather than using expensive, trial-and-error approaches in the laboratory.”

To design more efficient drugs and shorten the time to market, researchers rely on advanced computational methods to model molecular structures and the interactions with their targets. While classical computers are limited to modelling simple structures, quantum computers have the potential to model more complex systems that could drastically improve the drug discovery process. However, today’s quantum computers remain too noisy for results to evolve past proof-of-concept studies.

“Building on previous work with Astex, our collaboration aims to overcome this technological barrier and address a real business need for the pharmaceutical sector,” says Riverlane CEO Steve Brierley. The project will leverage Riverlane’s algorithm expertise and existing technology for high-speed, low-latency processing on quantum computers using Rigetti’s commercially available quantum systems. The team will also develop error mitigation software to help optimise the performance of the hardware architecture, which they expect to result in up to a threefold reduction in errors and runtime improvements of up to 40x. “This is an important first step in improving the performance of quantum computers so that they can solve commercially relevant problems,” Brierley adds.

Science Minister Amanda Solloway says, “The UK has bold ambitions to be the world’s first quantum-ready economy, harnessing the transformative capabilities of the technology to tackle global challenges such as climate change and disease outbreak.  

“This government-backed partnership will explore how the power of quantum could help boost drug discovery, with the aim of shortening the time it takes potentially life-saving drugs to transfer from lab to market, all while cementing the UK’s status as a science superpower.”

The 18-month feasibility study is facilitated by a grant through the Quantum Challenge at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). Rigetti UK has previously received funding from UKRI to develop the first commercially available quantum computer in the UK. Riverlane has also received funding from UKRI to develop an operating system that makes quantum software portable across qubit technologies.

About Rigetti UK
Rigetti UK Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Rigetti Computing, based in Berkeley, California. Rigetti builds superconducting quantum computing systems and delivers access to them over the cloud. These systems are optimized for integration with existing computing infrastructure and tailored to support the development of practical software and applications. Learn more at rigetti.com.

About Riverlane
Riverlane builds ground-breaking software to unleash the power of quantum computers. Backed by leading venture-capital funds and the University of Cambridge, it develops software that transforms quantum computers from experimental technology into commercial products. Learn more at riverlane.com.

About Astex
Astex is a leader in innovative drug discovery and development, committed to the fight against cancer and diseases of the central nervous system. Astex is developing a proprietary pipeline of novel therapies and has a number of partnered products being developed under collaborations with leading pharmaceutical companies. Astex is a wholly owned subsidiary of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., based in Tokyo, Japan.

For more information about Astex Pharmaceuticals, please visit astx.com.
For more information about Otsuka Pharmaceutical, please visit otsuka.co.jp/en/.


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