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Biotech entrepreneur Drayson plans to list new AI drug research firm

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By Ben Hirschler

LONDON (Reuters) – British biotech entrepreneur Paul Drayson plans to raise 60 million pounds through an initial public offering of a new company focused on artificial intelligence in healthcare.

Sensyne Health, which is set to list on London’s AIM market next week, uses artificial intelligence (AI) to fast track the discovery of medicines and improve patient care by analysing evidence from large datasets of anonymised patient records.

Insights gained from studying these detailed databases can then be sold on to pharmaceutical companies to help in drug research, including the design of smarter clinical trials.

It is the latest example of AI gaining traction in medicine and comes as leading drugmakers such as GlaxoSmithKline <GSK.L>, Merck & Co <MRK.N> and Sanofi <SASY.PA> look at ways to exploit machine learning in drug development.

Drayson, a former government minister and who co-founded vaccine specialist PowderJect Pharmaceuticals in Oxford in 1993 and sold it 10 years later to U.S. group Chiron, intends to list Sensyne on AIM on Aug. 17.

The company is focusing on chronic diseases, including cancer, respiratory, cardiovascular and immune conditions and the IPO is expected to give it a post-money valuation of around 225 million pounds, Drayson told Reuters.

Sensyne works with British National Health Service trusts in different areas and they are given an equity stake in the company, which means value created provides financial returns to the state-run health system.

“Effectively, we aim to be a docking station between the pharmaceutical industry and the NHS, making the analysis of anonymised NHS data available under proper Chinese walls and controls,” Drayson said.

Sensyne has signed its first agreement with an undisclosed drug company and is in discussion with half a dozen more, he added.

Drayson, who was a minister for defence and then science under Britain’s Labour government in the 2000s, is chief executive of Sensyne. The chairman is John Bell, a leading immunologist and geneticist at the University of Oxford.

The company, which recently changed its name from Drayson Health, is based in the Big Data Institute in Oxford.

(Reporting by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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