A UAE-backed biotech company tests an AI-engineered drug

A UAE-backed biotech company has begun testing a drug discovered and engineered using artificial intelligence on patients.

Insilico Medicine, which is headquartered in Hong Kong and has an R&D center in Abu Dhabi, has leveraged advanced technology to develop a drug for the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a chronic lung disease that causes lung scarring and breathing difficulties .

It said it completed the first dose in patients this week, as part of Phase II trials, with plans to recruit 60 more people to participate in the study in the US and China.

The 12-week study aims to evaluate the safety, tolerability and efficacy of the orally administered drug called INS018_055, the company said.

Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov said the progress of AI-driven drug trials represents a milestone.  Photo: Medicina Insilico

With demonstrated potential against both fibrosis and inflammation, INS018_055 could offer another option for patients around the world, said Feng Ren, chief scientific officer of Insilico Medicine.

Achieving the first dose for INS018_055 in the Phase II clinical trial is not only an important step for Insilico, but also a milestone for AI-driven drug discovery and development.

Together, we expect more AI-powered outcomes for global unmet medical needs.

Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, founder and co-CEO of the health technology company, believes the progress made so far highlights the potential of AI-based drug development.

When we started developing generative AI for drug discovery, I never expected to see the clinical and preclinical results we have today, he said.

The initiation of Phase II trials with this new IPF inhibitor represents an important milestone for deep generative reinforcement learning in drug discovery.

We will explore the efficacy for patients of treatments discovered and designed by AI in clinical trials, which is a true validation of our Generative AI platform. We are eager to continue advancing this potentially cutting-edge therapy to help patients in need and showcase the value of generative AI in drug discovery and development.

Its cause is unclear, but it typically affects people 70 and older and is rare among those younger than 50.

While a number of existing treatments are able to mitigate its impact on patients, there is currently no way to stop or reverse the scarring of the lungs.

How can AI enhance patient care?

Drug discovery has long been a painstaking and expensive process, with preclinical phases often taking several years to complete and costing hundreds of millions of dollars. AI tools are increasingly being used to streamline the process, offering a potential lifeline for patients around the world.

AI can be trained to sift through vast datasets to increase understanding of diseases and which genes and proteins can be used to counteract them.

The technology can also be used to run drug simulations, predict outcomes, and support efforts to design critical drugs.

UAE support

Insilico Medicine opened its Generative AI and Quantum Computing R&D Center at the International Renewable Energy Agency headquarters in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi in February.

Abu Dhabi’s prime location, strong and stable economy, developed infrastructure and highly educated talent make Abu Dhabi an emerging hub attracting high-tech companies from around the world, said Alex Aliper, president of Insilico at the time.

High-tech healthcare in pictures

Updated: July 02, 2023, 12:44pm

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