AI is finally delivering on its promise to revolutionize drug discovery and development: a COVID-19 drug entirely designed by generative AI has been approved for human use and will soon begin clinical trials in China!
In 2020, the scientific community was racing to find treatments for the deadly COVID-19 virus. Because lockdowns kept scientists out of the laboratories and glued to their computers, a particular discipline boomed: computational drug discovery.
InSilico Medicine, a clinical-stage biotech powered by generative AI, was among the companies that leveraged generative AI to join the race for a COVID-19 cure. Using their generative chemistry platform, InSilico quickly generated their first set of drug candidates, which were then optimized inside the Nanome virtual reality platform. By April 2020, they had filed a patent application, and further refinement led to the discovery of ISM3312, an orally available 3CLpro covalent inhibitor and the world's first COVID-19 therapeutic created entirely by generative AI.
“The beauty of generative AI (in drug discovery) is instead of searching for a needle in a haystack, it generates a bunch of perfect needles for you,” Zhavoronkov, InSilico Medicine CEO, said. “Then you just have to choose from those perfect needles — if you want the longer one or the one that is more stable.”
What makes ISM3312 so groundbreaking? It is the world’s first COVID-19 therapeutic created by generative AI. In preclinical studies, the drug has shown significant potential to reduce viral load in lung tissue, decrease lung inflammation, as well as serve as a broad-spectrum therapeutic for other types of coronavirus. Insilico Medicine will soon initiate clinical trials of ISM3312 in China, marking a major milestone in the fight against COVID-19.
“Insilico fully utilized its unique features in this internal COVID R&D program by leveraging AI capabilities with R&D expertise to design an innovative 3CLpro inhibitor with novel structure and molecular backbone.” said Feng Ren, co-CEO and CSO at Insilico Medicine.
Insilico Medicine will soon initiate clinical trials of ISM3312 in China to explore the tolerability, safety, and pharmacokinetic profile of the drug in humans, as well as its efficacy and safety in different subgroups of patients with COVID-19, thus providing an alternative option for health management in the post-pandemic era.
However, the use of AI in drug discovery does not mean that scientists are becoming obsolete. Human intuition and knowledge remain key aspects of the drug discovery process. In the early stages of COVID-19 inhibitor research, the InSilico team met in virtual reality with Nanome scientists to work together and fine-tune AI-generated molecules. This collaboration between AI and human experts is the future of drug discovery, and it's why platforms like Nanome are so important.
At Nanome, we believe that the future of drug discovery lies in the combination of artificial intelligence and human expertise. Our platform enables scientists to communicate and collaborate in real time, no matter where they are in the world. With the ability to seamlessly upload and securely share proprietary data, Nanome is at the forefront of the virtual reality revolution in drug discovery.