Apr 23,2020


For The First Time Ever, A Drug Developed By AI Will Be Tested In Human Trials

2020-02-12 13:34:29

In a world first, a medicine developed by artificial intelligence may be used to treat patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder. The news is remarkable and hints that in the future, AI may help drug development become faster and more efficiently than ever before.

The first non-man made drug molecule, DSP-1181, has now entered Phase 1 clinical trials, European Pharmaceutical Review reported. The molecule is a long-acting potent serotonin 5-HT1A receptor agonist and was developed using AI that was the product of a partnership between Japan’s Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and Exscientia in the UK. The compound was developed in a remarkable time, with AI able to complete in 12 months what typically takes five years.

“We are very excited with the results of the joint research that resulted in the development of candidate compounds in a very short time,” said Toru Kimura, Senior Executive Officer and Senior Executive Research Director of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma. “We will continue to work hard to make this clinical study success so that it may deliver new benefits to patients as soon as possible.”

The drug was created by using algorithms, which AI was able to sift through faster than any human could.

Binary code symbols are seen on a laptop screen in this photo illustration on October 15, 2018 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images) NurPhoto via Getty Images

"There are billions of decisions needed to find the right molecules and it is a huge decision to precisely engineer a drug," Exscienta chief executive Prof Andrew Hopkins told the BBC. "But the beauty of the algorithm is that they are agnostic, so can be applied to any disease," he added.

This is not the first time that AI has played a hand in medicine, as increasing research shows AI’s ability to accurately diagnose disease, sometimes even better than doctors. For example, in the case of breast cancer diagnoses, a publication in the journal Nature showed that a computer model using an algorithm was more successful than radiologists reading mammograms, the BBC reported. The study concluded that the AI was as good as the current system, which uses two doctors to reach a single mammogram, but better than a single doctor. The AI also had fewer false negatives than the doctors, which is important as undiagnosed cancer is serious.

In the case of developing drugs, DSP-1181 may have been the first but scientists are convinced it is far from the last. 

"This year was the first to have an AI-designed drug but by the end of the decade all new drugs could potentially be created by AI," said Hopkins, BBC reported.

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