Artificial intelligence has made great strides in science and technology in recent years. The AI-based startup Exscientia developed a new drug that will soon be entering the clinical trial phase in its journey to acceptance in Japan. Drug development isn’t a field you’d expect to see AI having a significant impact on. However, Exscientia helped develop the compound for the drug alongside Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma. AI offers a faster way for necessary medications to be conceived and created. Usually, these drugs take four and a half years from inception to clinical trials, yet this one has already entered that phase in less than a year from the initial idea.
Using AI to Examine Combinations
One of the most significant hurdles in drug development is coming up with viable molecular combinations that offer the solutions the companies want safely. The AI agent was able to develop millions of potential variations. From there, the system narrowed down the possible, viable options and gave researchers a handful of them to test compared to the thousands they would have had to try out before this. The resulting drug is labeled as DSP-1181. Getting the drug to clinical trials was faster than traditionally produced drugs, but also cheaper since there were fewer false-starts involved and less time wasted testing dead ends. Andrew Hopkins, head of Exscientia, noted that the research team only had to test 20% of the number of compounds that a traditional drug development cycle would have gone through.
The Potential for Faster Development
While this is the first time an AI-aided drug will enter testing, the speed of development offers a lot of hope to the medical profession. Exscientia is slated to work alongside giants in the pharmaceutical world such as Bayer and Sanofi to aid in the hunt for treatments for existing and emerging diseases. AI development does come with a few caveats, however. There is no guarantee that the drug developed by AI will be a brand-new solution. It might just be another iteration of an existing one. However, because of the speed of the results, it’s worth seeing if AI-aided drug development will help humans cope with diseases better.