AI startup gives out resources to global drug firms for free

insilico medicine ai startup corona drug

A Hong Kong-based health tech startup is opening up its database of drug compounds to global pharmaceutical companies to speed up the process of finding a cure for the Covid-19 disease.

The AI startup ‘Insilico’ had earlier published a list of the molecular structure of several hundred chemical compounds on their website that can help medicinal chemists to work on the coronavirus. The company is currently taking feedback from these chemists and plans to synthesize and test up to 100 of them.

“In the short term, repurposing existing molecules [drugs] originally developed for other diseases such as HIV is the right strategy since their safety profile is already known,” stated Alex Zhavoronkov, Co-Founder and CEO.

The urgency to find a cure is a priority across the country as the virus claimed 1,660 lives and infected around 69,000 people. As of now, anti-HIV, influenza drugs and even herbal Chinese medicines are being tested for finding potential cures.

According to the company, the virus is being approached in two ways- by deriving antibodies from organisms or through small molecules. The small molecules, when ingested in the form of pills, work by slowing down the replication of the virus.

The algorithm was developed using AI “imagination” and “deep reinforcement learning capabilities” by 85 data scientists who revealed new drug compounds that are not known to chemists.