1st AI-developed drug heads to clinical trials

A new drug to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder has become the first compound developed fully by artificial intelligence to enter human clinical trials, the Financial Times reports.

The drug was created and deemed ready for clinical trials in just one year — significantly quicker than the four and a half years typically required for traditional methods. It was discovered and developed by a machine learning algorithm from U.K.-based AI startup Exscientia, in partnership with Japanese pharmaceutical company Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma.

"The AI can learn faster than conventional approaches, so we had to make and test only 350 compounds, a fifth of the normal number of compound candidates, which is record-breaking productivity," Andrew Hopkins, a molecular biophysicist and CEO of Exscientia, told the Financial Times. "The algorithms … can be applied to any drug targets, against a huge range of diseases in oncology, cardiovascular and rare diseases."

The startup is reportedly also working with Bayer, Sanofi and other pharmaceutical clients for AI-powered drug development.

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