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Sanofi goes ‘all in’ on AI with new app to support company’s manufacturing, R&D and more

Sanofi is jumping on the artificial intelligence boat with a new app and a pledge to become “the first pharma company powered by artificial intelligence at scale.”

The app, called plai and developed with AI company Aily Labs, gives a “360° view across all Sanofi activities” to support Sanofi teams, the company said in a statement.

Plai gives Sanofi staffers tools that “allow them to make better everyday decisions,” CEO Paul Hudson said. “We have just scratched the surface as to how we embrace these disruptive technologies to achieve our ambition of transforming the practice of medicine.”

The platform is a step in the company-wide “digital transformation and data demonstration journey” that aims to boost productivity, Hudson added. Sanofi is incorporating AI across teams including research, clinical operations and manufacturing.

In R&D, the company uses “multiple” AI programs to cut research times using predictive modeling and other automation approaches to speed up research. The tech also helps with mRNA research by using digital models to predict the strongest choice of particles to deliver vaccines to target cells.

The app will also give Sanofi teams insight to “rethink” clinical trials. For one, R&D teams can pinpoint more convenient trial sites and broaden opportunities for underrepresented communities to join in clinical research, helping the company enroll trials that reflect the diversity of patients most affected by the diseases studied.  

As for manufacturing, the company’s in-house AI-powered yield optimization solution takes information from current and historical batch performance to give “consistently higher” yield levels. Plai’s use within the company’s supply chain can predict 80% of low inventory situations, helping teams to secure supply “faster than ever before,” Sanofi said.

The app is not Sanofi’s first dip in the AI pool. In 2022, the company dropped $1 billion on Amunix Pharmaceuticals, which uses the tech to develop meds that activate only in tumor tissues without disrupting normal tissues. It also spent $100 million on AI drug discovery biotech Exscientia after a five-year partnership with the company. Other companies utilizing AI platforms that Sanofi has partnered with include Insilico Medicine,  Atomwise and Owkin.

Recently, Eli Lilly joined the AI drug development game too with an XtalPi partnership. Meanwhile, Boehringer Ingelheim and Click Therapeutics are using a digital app for personalized schizophrenia treatment and recently launched a study to target the symptoms of the disorder.