IBM partners with Finnish quantum startup to accelerate medication research

It can take a decade and over $1 billion for a new drug to get to the market. Quantum computing could accelerate the process, cutting costs and saving lives.

IBM has partnered with Algorithmiq, a Helsinki-based quantum computing startup, to "dramatically" reduce the time and cost it takes for pharmacy companies to bring new drugs to the market.

"Quantum computing holds the key to revolutionizing the process of drug discovery and development," Sabrina Maniscalco, CEO and co-founder of Algorithmiq, said in a statement.

While the first COVID-19 vaccines rolled out just ten months after the pandemic's start, they were based on years of pre-existing research.

It usually takes about a decade to get a new drug to the market, and the process could cost as much as $1.3bn, according to a 2020 study by the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Algorithmiq said its novel approach could not only accelerate this process but also help make new drugs that are "significantly" more efficient and less harmful, leading to precise medical treatment.

Near-term quantum devices like those developed by IBM are expected to be enough to achieve progress in this area, unlike other pressing issues like climate change that require much more powerful quantum computers to solve.

"IBM believes the demonstration of quantum advantage in areas such as quantum chemistry is possible this decade," Ivano Tavernelli from IBM Research said.

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