Novartis has allied with Microsoft to leverage the latter’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology for the discovery, development and commercialisation of medicines.

Under the multi-year collaboration, Novartis established an AI innovation lab, where the pharmaceutical company’s datasets will be combined with Microsoft’s AI solutions to generate AI models and applications that can aid researchers.

The lab will also use AI for generative chemistry, as well as image segmentation and analysis to enable personalised treatments and at-scale optimisation of cell and gene therapies.

Furthermore, the partners will develop and apply AI platforms and processes to support future programmes in the two fields.

Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan said: “As Novartis continues evolving into a focused medicines company powered by advanced therapy platforms and data science, alliances like this will help us deliver on our purpose to reimagine medicine to improve and extend patients’ lives.

“Pairing our deep knowledge of human biology and medicine with Microsoft’s leading expertise in AI could transform the way we discover and develop medicines for the world.”

The companies will work together at Novartis Campus in Switzerland, Novartis Global Service Center in Dublin, Ireland and Microsoft Research Lab in the UK.

Initially, the research will focus on personalised therapies for macular degeneration, cell and gene therapies and drug design.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said: “Our strategic alliance will combine Novartis’ life sciences expertise with the power of Azure and Microsoft AI.

“Together, we aim to address some of the biggest challenges facing the life sciences industry today and bring AI capabilities to every Novartis employee so they can unlock new insights as they work to discover new medicines and reduce patient costs.”

The overall investment for the partnership will involve project funding, subject-matter experts, technology and tools, noted Novartis.