UAE-based Insilico Medicine advances world’s first fully AI-generated drug to clinical trials

UAE-based Insilico Medicine advances world’s first fully AI-generated drug to clinical trials
Photo credit: WAM

Insilico Medicine, a biotech company based in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City that has developed an AI platform for drug discovery, has led the creation of the world’s first fully AI-generated drug, which is now in later-stage clinical trials, WAM reports. 

While AI has played a role in the creation of many pharmaceuticals, Insilico’s new drug, which will help treat a deadly lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, is the first to be fully generated by AI, from the treatment target to the drug’s unique structure.

“This AI drug is a major milestone for us and for the industry as a whole,” said Dr. Alex Zhavoronkov, Insilico Medicine’s CEO and an expert in longevity medicine. “We can use AI to create lifesaving treatments for new diseases using approaches we haven’t yet considered, and do so much more rapidly and efficiently. We’re also exploring other applications, such as climate change. Ultimately, our mission is to use generative AI and robotics to extend life and sustain the human race.”

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, is a rare and deadly disease marked by progressive scarring of the lungs that has no known cure and few treatments. In the Middle East, it is estimated that as many as 60 million people are at risk for developing respiratory diseases, including pulmonary fibrosis.

Insilico scientists used their AI platform to identify a new biological “target,” or protein, that could be inhibited with a drug in order to stop or reverse the progression of IPF. Their paper, recently published in the scientific journal Nature Biotechnology, provides in-depth insights into how Insilico’s AI platform used the connection between fibrosis and ageing to make the discovery.

Two Phase 2a clinical trials of the AI drug are currently being conducted in the United States and China to evaluate its safety, tolerability, and effectiveness in improving lung function. Insilico has over 30 AI-designed drugs in its pipeline, including seven in clinical stages, a number of which have been licensed by leading pharma companies including Sanofi, Menarini, and Exelixis.

The UAE Insilico team is working on other advances to Insilico’s Pharma.AI platform, including the integration of large language models and quantum computing.

“Insilico Medicine is only one of many AI and biotech organisations in Masdar City that are working to create a healthier, more sustainable future,” said Steve Severance, Masdar City’s director of growth. “We’ve developed our ecosystem for exactly this reason – to foster growth, collaboration, and new solutions that move the world forward. Secondcell Bio is using cell engineering to scale its drug discovery processes, and they’re located just a few hundred meters from Insilico’s lab in Masdar City. It’s exciting to see the amazing work our partners are doing.”

Earlier this year, Masdar City signed an MOU with the Abu Dhabi Department of Health and two other biotech companies, Xlife Sciences and Thermo Fisher Scientific, as part of a strategy to drive growth and innovation in Abu Dhabi’s life sciences sector.

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