Here’s How AI is changing drug discovery

In the world of medicine, there is always the quest for the next cure for one of the many diseases that affect mankind. This quest often centers around the discovery of new drugs that will be the cure. There are always advancements being made in this field of medicine but never enough or fast enough to deal with the diseases and afflictions that mankind can be stricken with.

Drug Discovery

Drug discovery is part of medicine, as well as is included in the fields of biotechnology and pharmacology. 

In The Past

There have been a lot of drug discoveries, many of which that have turned life threatening illnesses into ones that can be fully treated or in some cases controlled. The process in which these discoveries are made are long and arduous. The discoveries were made by taking remedies that were currently being used and then identifying the active ingredient in them that worked. Or in some cases discoveries were made by accident. A good example of this was penicillin. 

In The Now

Advancements have been made in drug discovery partially because of new technology. However, the methods being relied on are very expensive. It takes a lot of money to start projects in the quest for new drugs to deal with a specific disease. An example of this is cancer research when it comes to developing new chemotherapy treatments or other drugs used in the treatment of cancer. With all the modern technology that is available today the advancement in drug discovery is slow, challenging, frustrating and expensive. In the meantime millions of lives depend on drug discovery advancement.

AI and Drug Discovery

The drug discovery industries are constantly in search of new technology to assist them, and they are now showing great interest in artificial intelligence. 

Machine learning and dynamics simulation, which can fall within the realm of AI, can be useful tools for drug discovery. Many believe that AI can be effectively used in the many steps that the process of drug discovery takes. These steps include:

  • First, identifying the targets that may respond to drugs is critical. Such as protein receptors that are found in some of the diseases.
  • Target binding may be the next process, which requires intense screening of the compounds that can be used to see which ones have the capability of binding to the target.
  • Then there is a whole gambit of testing both biologically and chemically that has to be carried out. 

How Could AI Help?

AI is currently available that is able to identify certain patterns in accumulated data. Based on this, it may assist with predictions as to which of the compounds would be the most beneficial to be turned into medicines. 

How Is AI Being Currently Used?

There are many biopharmaceutical companies that are using AI to further their efforts. Some examples are:

Pfizer:

This company is relying on the IBM Watson to help find new immune-oncology drugs. Watson is a machine learning system which AI. 

Sanofi:

This is a UK based company that has just completed negotiations with Exscientia, who has a AI system that can be used in the research for metabolic diseases.

Roche:

This company is heavily involved in discovering new cancer treatments. They are relying on AI from GNS Healthcare. 

These are just a few of many that are now entering into the world of AI.

The Potential Benefits

There are numerous benefits that come with the use of AI, such as being able to make the process of drug discovery less time consuming, more effective and less costly. Already to date there has been some significant benefits with the use of AI in the medical industry.

A Critical Discovery

Sometimes new drugs are released for use where later in years, it is discovered that there are some major and serious side effects. One such case was with a drug called Lamisil. This was a drug developed for the treatment of fungal skin infections and thrush. Three years after its release for use multiple reports of side effects arose. Some so serious, they led to death as a result of the drug doing irreparable damage to the liver of some that had used it. 

Canadian researchers were able to identify the compound that was causing the problem. What they could not determine is how the compound was being formed in the liver.

Then a graduate student using AI was able to solve the problem. The AI was able to determine the pathways that the compound was taking when it was metabolizing the liver. It was a two step process that was taking place, which is extremely difficult for scientists to determine but did not prove difficult for the AI.

The Potential Uses of AI

Artificial intelligence has the ability to handle complex problems. It has the ability to decipher patterns which is critical in drug discovery. Patterns are comprised of huge amounts of data, which is very complex for the human mind but doesn’t seem to be as such for AI.

This discovery not only solved a very serious problem, but it opened up new opinions on how AI could be beneficial in other areas of this type of medicine. 

Drug Enhancement

Not only could AI be used for the discovery of new drugs, it could also take on a role of enhancing drugs that are already discovered. A good example of that is the use it was put to for the fungal drug. There have been several cases where drugs have had to be pulled off the market because of new discoveries of side effects. Rather than have to shelf these drugs possibly AI could be used to identify the flaws so they could be corrected.

The Challenges To Be Faced

Although AI may be a potential resource that comes with many benefits, it creates extra challenges that are current. Researchers and scientists have to become familiar with the AI and learn its capabilities. It is necessary if they want to be able to capitalize on its capabilities. It takes time and resources to do this and puts an extra burden on those who are involved. 

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WTF is Quantum Supremacy?

Anyone that has an interest in computers that goes beyond the basic use and owning of one is soon going to hear the term quantum supremacy. When they do a little more research about this, they will either walk away from it feeling that it is just too complex, or they will develop a passion for wanting to learn a whole lot more about it.

Quantum Computers

These are computers that are way above the capabilities of a traditional computer. They are devices that can perform computations that rely on quantum bits or qubits for short. 

The traditional computer, which is the one that the average person uses, is also referred to as a binary computer. Computers have the ability to perform calculations. The binary computer uses transistors for this. Each transistor works off of one or zero for the computing that is needed for the next step the computer takes. These ones or zeros are referred to as bits.

The Quantum computers use qubits, not bits. They have greater functions like being able to use ones or zeros at the same time. In short the quantum computers are far more advanced and have capabilities that have not yet been recognized or tapped into as yet. This is what is leading to quantum supremacy.

Quantum Supremacy

This is a milestone that anyone who is into quantum computers is hoping to reach. It is the point where this type of computer will be able to complete processes in calculations that a traditional computer is not capable of. To accomplish this, it will have to perform calculations differently. When this is achieved then it will be called quantum supremacy. It is like having a very sophisticated piece of equipment but not knowing how to use it to its fullest capability. 

The Bad With The Good

Quantum supremacy is certainly viewed as something that is good and is going to open up doors in many different ways that are only figments of the imagination right now. However, along with these positives, there will be some negative aspects as well. It is believed that even a basic quantum computer will be able to bypass binary security with no effort at all. Technology is always working on advanced ways to beef up internet computer. This is done with complex mathematical equations. The more complex a password is, for example or an encryption is the harder it is to be hacked. If a quantum computer can solve calculations then what is going to happen to all this high powered security that technology is currently providing?

Why Could This Happen?

Quantum computers are massive problem solvers. They don’t rely on bits, and because the qbits can be two things at once they don’t follow the same binary logic.

What With Be The Benefits of Quantum Supremacy?

The quantum computers will serve a different purpose compared to the traditional computers that are so popular today. A quantum computer will be able to perform calculations within seconds that would take a traditional computer thousands of years to do. This ability to perform complex calculations could be beneficial to many different industries in the years to come.

The Race for Quantum Supremacy

In the business world, when it comes to innovation everyone wants to be the first. It would seem the entity on track for this when it comes to Quantum Supremacy is Google.  Google actually just recently made the announcement that it had reached quantum supremacy. 

Sycamore

Google’s quantum computer is called Sycamore. The recent announcement claimed that Sycamore had just completed a very difficult problem within 200 seconds. For comparison purposes, it was said that Summit would have taken 10,000 years to solve the same problem. Summit is IBM’s super computer. Which happens to be the size of two basketball courts.

So according to Google, Sycamore has reached quantum supremacy. It met the criteria which was being able to do something faster than any classical computer would be able to do. 

IBM was quick to correct Google’s equation of how long it would have taken Summit to complete the same task. According to IBM it would have only taken 2 ½ days. This closes the gap a little bit and sort of waters down Sycamore’s achievement.

 What Does This Quantum Supremacy Achievement Mean?

This breakthrough that Google has completed in itself has no special purpose. It was an experiment conducted to get to the point of quantum supremacy. It other words, the goal was to be the first to achieve it. The problem that was solved has no other value to it. 

For the Future

Because there are so many unknowns about quantum computing, it is hard for anyone to come up with a solid list of where this technology will provide the most benefits. Right at the start though, it is believed that it will provide massive breakthroughs for quantum chemistry. Which, if so will have a big influence on agriculture and the health of humans. There is a possibility for its use in solar energy or in the pharmaceutical fields. 

A Long Road Ahead

Like with most types of breakthroughs, there is always a long road ahead. It is not likely that quantum computers will be in big demands by most industries for several years to come and even longer before they become a household resource.

The Experimentation Stage

Google has its own reasons for its involvement is quantum computing. There are some scientists that are also experimenting with it. To date, there have been no major revelations stemming from this. 

The Term Quantum Supremacy

There are those in the field of technology that do not like this term as they feel that it is just a term for hype in the technology industry. They believe the term is just building false expectations. Quantum computing is still in the field of unknown. 

Basically it is a piece of equipment that as yet nobody knows what to do with it or what its real purpose will be. 

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