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Research and development (R&D) productivity across the pharmaceutical industry has received close scrutiny over the past two decades, especially taking into consideration reports of attrition rates and the colossal cost for drug development. The respective merits of the two main drug discovery approaches, phenotypic and target based, have divided opinion across the research community, because each hold different advantages for identifying novel molecular entities with a successful path to the market. Nevertheless, both have low translatability in the clinic. Artificial intelligence (AI) and adoption of machine learning (ML) tools offer the promise of revolutionising drug development, and overcoming obstacles in the drug discovery pipeline. Here, we assess the potential of target-driven and phenotypic-based approaches and offer a holistic description of the current state of the field, from both a scientific and industry perspective. With the emerging partnerships between AI/ML and pharma still in their relative infancy, we investigate the potential and current limitations with a particular focus on phenotypic drug discovery. Finally, we emphasise the value of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and cross-disciplinary collaborations to foster innovation and facilitate efficient drug discovery programmes.

Original publication




Journal article


Drug Discov Today

Publication Date