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Accenture Labs and 1QBit Work with Biogen to Apply Quantum Computing to Accelerate Drug Discovery

By June 27, 2017No Comments

Accenture and quantum software firm 1QBit collaborated with Biogen to develop a first-of-its-kind quantum-enabled molecular comparison application that could significantly improve advanced molecular design to speed up drug discovery for complex neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Researchers at Accenture Labs collaborated with 1QBit to create the new application which enhances Biogen’s existing molecule comparison method with quantum capabilities. Molecular comparison is a crucial part of early-phase drug design and discovery, and involves intensive computational methods to review molecule matches and predict the positive effects of a therapy or drug while reducing negative side effects.

By leveraging quantum computing – a computing paradigm that has the potential to find the answer to complex business problems millions of times faster than classical computing by leveraging the properties of quantum physics – the new application provides novel insights into the molecular comparison process as well as much deeper contextual information about how, where and why molecules match. This is expected to enable scientists and researchers to analyze large collections of molecules more quickly and cost effectively.

“At Biogen, we’re always looking to harness cutting-edge technologies that push the boundaries of traditional pharmaceutical research to discover new treatments and cures for complex neuroinflammatory and neurodegenerative conditions,” said Govinda Bhisetti, Head of Computational Chemistry, Biogen. “Collaborating with researchers at Accenture Labs and 1QBit made it possible to rapidly pilot and deploy a quantum-enabled application that has the potential to enable us to bring medicines to people faster.”

In just over two months, Accenture Labs, Biogen and 1QBit progressed from an exploratory conversation about quantum business experimentation to an enterprise-ready, quantum-enabled application that generates molecular comparison results with deeper insights about shared traits. “As quantum computers become more readily available, it will become easier for pharmaceutical companies to identify and develop new medicines for a wide range of diseases and conditions,” said Jeff Elton, Ph.D., managing director, Accenture Strategy, Life Sciences.

“Accenture Labs is focused on helping clients across multiple industries prepare for the arrival of mainstream quantum computing, which offers great potential to solve challenges in entirely new ways through quantum-enabled optimization, sampling, and machine learning algorithms,” said Marc Carrel-Billiard, senior managing director, Accenture Labs. “Through our collaboration with Biogen, 1QBit and our colleagues in the Accenture Life Sciences industry group, we have achieved a breakthrough that confirms the speed and accuracy of the quantum-enabled method for molecular comparison and takes another significant step toward improving the pharmaceutical industry’s drug discovery and design process to help deliver better patient and economic outcomes more efficiently.”

According to the Accenture Technology Vision 2017 companion survey of more than 5,400 business and IT executives, 40 percent of respondents are taking proactive steps to prepare for quantum computing, with 36 percent planning to invest in quantum capabilities in the next two years.

Playing a key role in Accenture’s overall Innovation Architecture, Accenture Labs helps clients harness emerging technologies to change the way the world works and lives. Given the potential for quantum computing to disrupt the computing landscape in the next two to five years, helping clients identify opportunities and begin working with quantum computing to stay ahead of the broader introduction and deployment of associated technologies is a key focus area. Accenture Labs has already identified more than 150 use cases with clients – from portfolio optimization in the financial services sector to production scheduling in manufacturing – where quantum computing would be relevant.

To learn more about Accenture Labs and its quantum computing work, please visit

To learn more about how we are working with Biogen to apply quantum computing to accelerate drug discovery, please visit

To learn more about Accenture Life Sciences, please visit

About Accenture

Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 401,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at

Accenture Labs incubates and prototypes new concepts through applied R&D projects that are expected to have a significant strategic impact on clients’ businesses. Our dedicated team of technologists and researchers work with leaders across the company to invest in, incubate and deliver breakthrough ideas and solutions that help our clients create new sources of business advantage. Accenture Labs is located in seven key research hubs around the world and collaborates extensively with Accenture’s network of nearly 400 innovation centers, studios and centers of excellence globally to deliver cutting-edge research, insights and solutions to clients where they operate and live. For more information, please visit

About 1QBit

1QBit is dedicated to building quantum and quantum-inspired software to solve the world’s most demanding computational challenges. The company’s hardware-agnostic platforms and services enable the development of applications which scale alongside advances in both classical and quantum computers. 1QBit partners with Fortune 500 clients and leading hardware providers to redefine intractable industry problems in the areas of optimization, simulation, and machine learning. Headquartered in Vancouver, Canada, 1QBit’s interdisciplinary team of 50 comprises mathematicians, physicists, chemists, software developers, and quantum computing experts who develop novel solutions to problems, from research through to commercial application development. For more information, visit:


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