Artificial intelligence independently develops new drugs for the first time

Today, February 4, 2020, is World Cancer Day. Cancer is and remains one of the greatest challenges, both for the patients affected and their relatives, but also for the doctors treating them. However, technological change also plays a major role in this sector. Artificial intelligence could help to develop an effective treatment for cancer within a few years. By 2020, however, drug development by AI will begin in small steps.

DSP-1181 is the name of the first active ingredient created by artificial intelligence. It is intended to help against obsessive-compulsive disorders. The drug was created by algorithms that analysed and compared different possible compounds. The AI took into account not only the parameters stored in its database, but also the unique genetic factors of the patient.


“There are billions of decisions needed to find the right molecules and it is a huge decision to precisely engineer a drug.” – Prof. Andrew Hopkins.

Hopkins emphasised in an interview with BBC that this type of drug development would be a milestone in drug research because the algorithm used by artificial intelligence could be applied to any disease, not just to a specific drug.


Accelerated drug development

The algorithm used in DSP-1181 resulted in the new drug in less than 12 months. The normal cycle of drug production usually takes about 4 years, according to the comparison values.

Whether the drug really works, however, must now be shown. Up to now, the active ingredient has only been tested on mice. In spring 2020 the first tests will be carried out on humans.

However, the research community behind the drug, the British start-up Exscientia and the Japanese pharmaceutical company Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, do not want to stop at this first drug. Should the tests prove successful, they would like to develop drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases and also cancer.

Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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