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Fujitsu and PeptiDream Leverage Quantum-Inspired Tech in Joint Research to Accelerate Drug Discovery

Fujitsu's Quantum-Inspired Digital Annealer technology applied to drug discovery process to streamline the search for candidate compounds

Fujitsu Limited,PeptiDream, Inc.

Tokyo and Kawasaki, Japan, September 20, 2019

Fujitsu Limited and PeptiDream Inc. today announced that they have agreed to initiate joint research and development in the area of peptide drug discovery, using Fujitsu's Digital Annealer, which employs next-generation computing architecture to quickly solve combinatorial optimization problems.

By combining Fujitsu's proprietary high-speed, quantum-inspired computing technology with PeptiDream's advanced knowledge and wealth of experimental data in unique peptides(1), the companies seek to develop revolutionary in silico drug discovery(2) technology. This technology, applied to the field of peptide drug discovery offers researchers the chance to dramatically accelerate the search for drug candidate compounds through improved efficiency.

At present, the most widely distributed drugs are small-molecule drugs, which have the advantages, as oral drugs, of being relatively cost-effective and easy to develop. On the other hand, because their selectivity toward the target is low, they have the disadvantage of acting on off-target areas, making them prone to causing side-effects. In contrast, antibody drugs, which are large-molecule drugs, are costly, but because they are highly selective cause relatively few side-effects. Peptide therapeutics, which have a molecular weight in between small-molecule drugs and antibody drugs, combine the advantages of low-cost with relatively few side effects.

The drug discovery process for peptides involves extracting thousands of candidates from a starting point of several trillions of candidate compounds, and then further whittling that number down to several tens of candidates. This search process requires an iterative process in which, in addition to "dry" experiments that can be simulated with computers, there are "wet" experiments performed in the lab. Ordinarily, this process takes anywhere from a few months to a few years. In the process of narrowing down candidate compounds, it remains important to have an understanding of a molecule's stable conformation. In an analysis using a conventional computer, however, getting information on the stable conformation of one compound would take several days.

For combinatorial optimization problems, which take into account various combinations of real-world factors to discover an optimal solution, Fujitsu began offering the services of the Digital Annealer in May 2018. Fujitsu Laboratories Ltd. originally developed the hardware using next-generation architecture inspired by quantum phenomena. The Digital Annealer's ability to rapidly locate optimal solutions for problems that could not be solved using conventional computers, makes it an ideal choice for applications in a wide range of areas, including delivery optimizations in distribution, the optimization of component placement in a factory, portfolio optimization in finance, and narrowing candidate selection in materials and drug discovery.

For drug discovery, PeptiDream has a proprietary drug discovery and development platform called the Peptide Discovery Platform System, which enables it to freely create unique peptides that have a variety of unnatural amino acids and accelerate searches for drug candidate compounds. PeptiDream is leveraging this system to move forward with the development of a large number of drug candidate compounds targeting a wide range of indications that could not be targeted with conventional small-molecule drugs or antibodies.

By introducing the Digital Annealer to these efforts, Fujitsu and PeptiDream aim to accelerate the search process for candidate compounds in PeptiDream's peptide drug discovery process, jointly developing and validating their peptide drug discovery technology.

Description of the Joint Research

In peptide drug discovery, it is important to obtain information on the peptide's stable conformation, which is determined by the structure of its main and side chains(3).

In this collaboration between Fujitsu and PeptiDream, combinatorial optimization calculations will be performed using Fujitsu's Digital Annealer to verify whether stable conformations of unique peptides can be quickly obtained. Researchers will rely on PeptiDream's huge database of unique peptides,

The joint research seeks to create search technology for the stable conformations of unique peptides and verify the usefulness of the Digital Annealer in peptide drug discovery. By applying the Digital Annealer technology to the search process in PeptiDream's candidate compound development, the two companies aim to significantly reduce search times from a few days to a fraction of that time, dramatically improving the efficiency of discovering drug candidate compounds, and helping to improve the prospects of bringing about new drugs.

Comment from EVP Naoko Yoshizawa of Fujitsu

Fujitsu is leveraging its Digital Annealer to achieve solutions to a wide range of challenging issues confronting society. The technology's unique architecture allows it to quickly solve combinatorial optimization problems that have proven very difficult to solve using conventional computers because of the huge volume of calculations required.

With this initiative, Fujitsu will play an instrumental role in developing a revolutionary technology for searching for compounds that offers high speed and high precision, addressing the challenge presented by the amount of time required for the lengthy peptide drug discovery process and making the time spent on searches dramatically more efficient.

We hope to contribute to the creation of innovative new drugs through the synergistic effect of our collaboration with PeptiDream, which leads the field of mid-molecule drug discovery with its advanced knowledge and innovative technology, and our efforts utilizing our own cutting-edge computing technology.

Comment from EVP Keiichi Masuya, Ph.D., of PeptiDream

In searching and optimizing unique peptides, it is very important to have an understanding of a peptide's stable conformation in water and its stable conformation when the peptide interacts with a protein. In analyses using conventional computers, even at their fastest, these calculations took several days. We are very pleased to collaborate with Fujitsu and its Digital Annealer on the potential for reducing the time required for these calculations to a fraction of what is required today. Through this collaboration, we would like to substantially improve the efficiency of the unique peptide search process and contribute even further to the creation of innovative new drugs.

  • [1] Peptide

    A compound in which two or more amino acid molecules are chemically bound together in a chain or a loop. A unique peptide is a compound that includes unnatural amino acids.

  • [2] In silico drug discovery

    Drug discovery performed by a computer using methods for predicting outcomes using calculations, such as from simulations.

  • [3] Main chain and side chains

    In peptides as well as large molecule compounds, such as proteins, the part forming the backbone is called the main chain, while the parts branching off of the main chain are called the side chains.

About Fujitsu

Fujitsu is the leading Japanese information and communication technology (ICT) company, offering a full range of technology products, solutions, and services. Approximately 132,000 Fujitsu people support customers in more than 100 countries. We use our experience and the power of ICT to shape the future of society with our customers. Fujitsu Limited (TSE: 6702) reported consolidated revenues of 4.0 trillion yen (US $36 billion) for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2019. For more information, please see

About PeptiDream

PeptiDream Inc. is a public (Tokyo Stock Exchange 1st Section 4587) biopharmaceutical company founded in 2006 employing our proprietary Peptide Discovery Platform System (PDPS), a state-of-the-art highly versatile discovery platform which enables the production of highly diverse (trillions) non-standard peptide libraries with high efficiency, for the identification of highly potent and selective hit candidates, which then can be developed into peptide-based or small molecule-based therapeutics. PeptiDream aspires to be a world leader in drug discovery and development to address unmet medical needs and improve the quality of life of patients worldwide. For further information, please visit

Press Contacts

Public and Investor Relations Division

Company:Fujitsu Limited

Press Contacts

Patrick C Reid
Representative Director, President & CEO

Phone: Phone: +81-44-270-1270 (Kanagawa)
E-mail: E-mail:
Company:PeptiDream Inc.

All company or product names mentioned herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners. Information provided in this press release is accurate at time of publication and is subject to change without advance notice.

Date: 20 September, 2019
City: Tokyo and Kawasaki, Japan
Company: Fujitsu Limited ,PeptiDream, Inc.