First AI-generated drug enters human trials

Insilico Medicine, a Hong Kong-based biotech startup, has created an idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis drug exclusively using artificial intelligence (AI), and it has already entered human trials, CNBC reports.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis causes lung scarring and currently affects around 100,000 in the US. Insilico Medicine started work on the treatment in 2020.

“It is the first fully generative AI drug to reach human clinical trials, and specifically Phase II trials with patients,” CNBC quoted Insilico Medicine founder and CEO Alex Zhavoronkov as saying.

“While there are other AI-designed drugs in trials, ours is the first drug with both a novel AI-discovered target and a novel AI-generated design.”

Zhavoronkov said the company embarked on the project with hopes of creating a “moonshot” treatment to address problems with current forms of treatment, which mainly focus on slowing progression and cause uncomfortable side effects.

He said Insilico Medicine focussed on the idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis treatment due to the ailment’s implications in ageing.

However, Zhavoronkov said the company has two other AI-generated drugs in the clinical stage — the first being a Covid-19 drug and the second a cancer treatment.

The Covid-19 drug is currently in phase one clinical trials, while Insilico Medicine is still awaiting FDA approval for the cancer drug before it can start trials.

Zhavoronkov said the cancer drug is a “USP1 inhibitor for the treatment of solid tumors”.

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First AI-generated drug enters human trials