AI-driven drug discovery: A boon against COVID-19?

Original article was published by Davidson Phil on Artificial Intelligence on Medium


Computational Artificial Intelligence and molecular chemistry advance in parallel with the rapid progress in drug design methods for COVID-19. This technique is becoming a powerful tool in medicinal chemistry to identify the starting points as hit molecules for COVID-19. This approach reduces the time and cost taken for drug research and development. The applications based on utilizing AI-based approach for designing of drugs are involved precisely with the molecular structure of the drugs. AI based applications crucial retrieve data and information from engines to search novel drug candidates, optimize drug repurposing.

Developments in “Artificial Intelligence and Computational Drug Designing” techniques are becoming the benchmark for the COVID-19, opening new avenues for drug discovery.

New approaches are needed as the cost of drug development is increasing with decreasing investment returns.

3. Why we need artificial intelligence

The number of FDA-approved drugs is declining with the number of new molecular entities (NMEs). The reasons noted are adverse side effects and reduced efficiency of many potential compounds. The delay in NME manufacturing plagues the pharmaceutical industry. Besides this, the assumed effects of the drug on disease are becoming more and more complex.

Artificial Intelligence and Computational Drug Designing provides a new direction to the system-centric idea for R&D leading to future drugs, which starts with the identification of the scope of a new drug.

4. Race to find cure for COVID-19 already started

Now a days, AI is being used by several companies for the identification and screening of existing drugs that could be repurposed for the treatment of COVID-19, aid clinical validation, sift through trial data, and scour through patient electronic medical records (EMRs). Companies like TCS′ Innovation Lab in India, where a team of TCS scientists identified 31 potential hits that might act as inhibitors for COVID-19.

Similarly, a startup named Benevolent AI, that has raised $292 million to apply AI-based COVID-19 drug discovery, came up with an already approved drug through AI-based drug discovery approach for COVID-19 as an effective treatment.

UK-based company Exscientia already team-up with Diamond Light Source (UK’s national synchrotron science facility) to utilize its AI drug discovery platform for identifying potential compounds against COVID-19. The Molecule. one, a European AI-centered startup has released its patented syntheses planning platform for free access to the scientific fraternity, in an effort to help researchers rapidly synthesize and test potential candidate molecules against COVID-19. IBM has also utilized its AI generative frameworks to three COVID-19 drug targets and has generated 3000 novel potential hits or molecules.

5. Role of AI in vaccine research

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Human Vaccines Project have declared the Human Immunomics Initiative, a joint effort which will make use of artificial intelligence models for accelerating the development of vaccines.

This Initiative aimed at proper utilization of state-of-the art techniques in epidemiology, immune monitoring, network biology, AI and machine learning to explain effective immunity in old-aged populations, and use these data to speed up the development of successful vaccine and therapeutic.

6. Conclusion

In summary, we can conclude that AI might prove impactful in treatment & cures against COVID-19. These AI-based tools can be used for scanning of peptides/drugs against COVID-19 from their own targets. Nevertheless, when it comes to medicine, AI as of now, has a demonstrated reputation for being a rapid and cost-effective method but clinical trials are required for the validation purpose.