Digital & Innovation

World first for AI in drug discovery

Health Industry Hub | February 3, 2020 |
[Total: 1    Average: 4/5]

A drug molecule developed by artificial intelligence (AI) will be used in human trials in a world first for machine learning in medicine.

DSP-1181 was created through the joint research by Japanese pharmaceuticals company Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and UK start-up Exscientia, with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma providing its experience and knowledge in monoamine GPCR drug discovery and Exscientia applying its Centaur Chemist Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform for drug discovery.

This project was delivered by the strong synergy of the joint research, requiring less than 12 months to complete the exploratory research phase, just a fraction of the typical average of 4.5 years using conventional research techniques.

DSP-1181 is being progressed as a long-acting and potent serotonin 5-HT1A receptor agonist, and its phase I clinical study to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder as an indication candidate.

Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia, said: “We believe that this entry of DSP-1181, created using AI, into clinical studies is a key milestone in drug discovery.”

“We have seen AI for diagnosing patients and for analysing patient data and scans, but this is a direct use of AI in the creation of a new medicine. The molecule – known as DSP-1181 – was created by using algorithms that sifted through potential compounds, checking them against a huge database of parameters. There are billions of decisions needed to find the right molecules and it is a huge decision to precisely engineer a drug,” said Prof Hopkins.

“But the beauty of the algorithm is that they are agnostic, so can be applied to any disease,” he added.

AI displays a significant potential to enhance and accelerate drug discovery considering the substantial cost of research and development and the need for innovative medicines to enhance patient outcomes.


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