Researchers at Imperial and Bayer Pharmaceuticals are partnering up to explore how artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to accelerate the discovery of new drugs for heart conditions.

The partnership plans to develop machine learning tools to analyse imaging of the heart in 3D, along with genetic information as part of the new transformative approach to drug discovery.

2018 has been the year that various companies have adopted the idea of AI and machine learning to usher in an era of quicker, cheaper and more-effective drug discovery.

The new collaboration will use data from UK Biobank, a national health resource containing a wealth of information on 500,000 people in the UK, enabling them to discover pathways involved in heart disease that could provide new targets for treatment.

Dr Declan O’Regan, from the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences, said: “AI has the potential to transform our understanding of heart disease and accelerate the discovery of new treatments. Our collaboration with Bayer will harness state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms and advanced statistical techniques to understand the relationship between genetic variants and cardiac motion using data collected by UK Biobank.

“This academic-industrial partnership is made possible by innovative inter-disciplinary research that bridges the domains of imaging, machine learning and clinical pharmacology, and reflects Imperial’s dedication in advancing real-world applications of artificial intelligence in medical research.”

Currently, an estimated seven million people are living with heart and circulatory disease in the UK alone, with cardiovascular diseases responsible for one in four deaths.