SLC company uses artificial intelligence to aid in drug discovery

SLC company uses artificial intelligence to aid in drug discovery


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SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City-based company Recursion Pharmaceuticals was recognized Tuesday for its drug discovery platform, which combines both the innovation of artificial intelligence and the mystery of experimental biology.

Recursion Pharmaceuticals received two Fierce Innovation awards from the biotech and pharmaceutical industries as recognition for their platform, which is said to increase the rate at which drugs can be discovered.

"Traditional drug discovery can take more than a decade and billions of dollars per approved compound," Recursion's co-founder and CEO, Chris Gibson, said in a news release. "Recursion's platform can radically increase the scale at which drugs are discovered, saving years of development time and the associated costs."

The platform uses tons of microscopic pictures of human cells, including diseased cells and cells that have been treated with different chemicals and drugs, and utilizes image recognition to identify which parts of the cell change when afflicted with a disease or treated with a drug.

Artificial intelligence picks up on different features of the cells that change and can learn about aspects of distinctive diseases and the effects of certain chemicals, but at an enormously accelerated rate. The platform allows the company to model diseases at the cellular level.

"Because we model diseases and conditions in human cells, our platform can be deployed across nearly any aspect of human cellular biology," Gibson said. "Drug discovery is the first and most advanced of Recursion's real-world applications."

Recursion has been able to screen hundreds of disease models and has identified a dozen compounds across seven disease states that show enough potential to advance to preclinical development, allowing others to more efficiently test drugs on real human cells.

The Fierce Innovation Awards program highlighted the platform's ability to span the life science industry and Recursion received the award for Best Biotech Innovation and Best in Show — New Product or Service.

Liesl is a web reporter at and a student at Brigham Young University. You can email her at

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Liesl Nielsen


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