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  • Drug giant Bristol Myers Squibb is quietly testing a handful of AI ideas to improve its research.
  • In an interview with Insider, one of its executives outlined three promising AI programs.
  • These programs are being used in clinical trials to make them more efficient and powerful.

In the past several years, there’s been an explosion of AI-specializing biotech startups that have raised hundreds of millions, such as Insitro, Recursion Pharmaceuticals, and Deep Genomics — and big pharma is now getting in on the action. The New Jersey drug giant Bristol Myers Squibb is quietly testing several artificial-intelligence programs, hoping the ideas can make pharmaceutical research more efficient and powerful.

Venkat Sethuraman, Bristol Myers’ senior vice president of biometrics and data science, told Insider about three AI and machine-learning programs being used in clinical trials at the $161 billion company. While AI and ML have become ubiquitous buzzwords in the pharma industry, these programs show how the technologies can influence drug research in the near term, Sethuraman, a drug-industry veteran who previously worked at GSK and Novartis, said.

If the ideas work, they can enhance clinical trials by reducing the use of placebos, creating better metrics to gauge a drug’s effectiveness, and improving the experience of trial volunteers.

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