Researchers Use AI to Identify 31 Drugs for COVID-19 Treatment

Monday, April 27, 2020 - 12:33

Cambridge Company AI VIVO has created a list of 31 drugs that are already approved or in late clinical stage trials has been identified in the search for potential Covid-19 treatments.

It used its artificial intelligence-driven phenotypic approach, assessing observable characteristics to rank 90,000 candidate compounds in just 15 days, Cambridge Independent reports.

The company, based at the Bio-Innovation Centre on Cambridge Science Park, used real samples from Covid-19 infected cells to build its model of the impact of the virus on the lungs.

Its prediction engine then delivered its list of 31 promising candidates, which represent 0.05 per cent of those studied.

One of the company’s lead investors is serial entrepreneur David Cleevely, who is also a government adviser.

He said: “We are already talking to a number of government agencies and pharmaceutical organisations about testing the top ranked drugs on our list which could prove to be even more significant and make a real difference in the fight against Covid-19.

“Now that we have the crucial data, it’s essential that we get on with testing these drugs as quickly as possible. And, to that end, we’d be delighted to hear from anyone interested in partnering or collaborating with us.”

Encouragingly, among the top 31 are five drugs that have already entered clinical trials for Covid-19:

Chloroquine, an anti-malarial drug;

Dexamethasone, a commonly used corticosteroid;

Sirolimus, an immuno-suppressant drug;

Tacrolimus, an immuno-suppressant drug;

Thalidomide, a cancer treatment drug.

Founder and CEO Dr Peyman Gifani said: “We are a team of molecular biologists, system pharmacologists, control engineers and machine learning experts.

We believe identifying phenotypic changes in disease states is key to finding effective therapies.

There is little known about the Covid-19 virus itself, its effect on the host tissue and potential targets for discovery research. This limits our knowledge about the best targets for Covid-19 and means that AI VIVO's phenotypic approach could provide the most powerful, logical and rapid pathway to Covid-19 drug discovery.

“We are now in the process of extending our analysis to wider combinations of treatment strategies. This will lead to the identification of combinations of top ranked drugs that, together, will be better than any single drug on its own.”

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