Quantum Computing for the Real World: Ars Technica writes about POLARISqb and D-Wave
Just as the team was returning from some well-deserved time off for the winter break, we got some fantastic news. The publication Ars Technica, a highly-respected group that reports on cutting-edge developments in the tech world, was set to release an article about POLARISqb and D-Wave, the quantum computer we use in our drug discovery pipeline. We were thrilled to hear that one of the most recognized names in scientific journalism took note of our work. The article's main message, which is by John Timmer, is that while quantum computing is in its infancy, only a few companies today have found a way to use this new technology to solve problems.
Quantum computers are not just an advancement in the evolution of computing, they are an entirely new frontier in computational calculation. As our CEO Dr. Shahar Keinan said in an interview recently, they cannot “provide us a better version of Microsoft word,” but they are particularly good at optimization problems. We use a quantum annealing computer known as Advantage, which was made by the Toronto-based company D-Wave Systems.
POLARISqb computational chemist Dr. Victoria Ingman described how the annealer can empower unprecedented multi-variable optimization, “The quantum annealer is a promising solution for questions concerning large, combinatorial search spaces, and searching chemical space for optimal molecules is a perfect example of this.” By developing a system that samples a chemical space of billions of molecules in a matter of minutes or even seconds, this kind of technology enables a revolution in quantum drug design. Ingman sees a great deal of potential in the POLARISqb Tachyon system, explaining that, “With so many variables that must be considered when defining what an "optimal molecule" is, it is easy to overwhelm a classical computer with the sheer number of iterations needed to perform an exhaustive search. [It is] exciting to add additional efficiency to the field of drug discovery and get better molecules more quickly to help treat diseases that may be too difficult to tackle with conventional methods.”
The whole team is celebrating this landmark publication for our company. POLARISqb chemist Dr. Anna Petroff, says it is “a huge honor to be profiled in Ars Technica by John Timmer. The chemists all rely on this technology for drug development, which is unique to PQB. One of the projects we are currently working on is blocking the activity of a protein that causes a particular neurological disease. In trying to block the protein's movement with a small molecule, we are trying to make a tiny wrench to be thrown into a tiny machine.” This kind of accuracy presents many challenges, as Petroff continued, “What is the best shape the wrench can be? Not only does it have to block the protein, but it needs many favorable qualities that define its effectiveness as a small molecule treatment. The PQB engineering team built the first quantum drug discovery platform that can utilize the D-Wave quantum annealer to search billions of molecules and optimize small molecule leads. To have our methods described in Ars Technica is amazing!”
As we continue to work at the vanguard of computational chemistry to build the first quantum drug design and discovery platform, we look forward to more stories like this one. By combining multiple technologies such as artificial intelligence and Quantum Mechanics/Molecular Mechanics processes with the growing power of quantum computing, we continue to seek to fulfill our mission of helping find treatments, "for all diseases, for all people."