How AI is changing drug development

Researchers at universities are testing how artificial intelligence (AI) can drastically speed up the discovery and development of new drugs, which can typically take years.

In an article originally published by Vox, Regina Barzilay, AI faculty lead at the MIT Jameel Clinic, stated that the current system of paying billions to develop drugs, most of which fail in clinical trials, is 'unsustainable'. Regina and her team use AI to sift through large bodies of data within days, a task that sometimes takes humans years, to identify potential target molecules, thus helping to accelerate the overall drug discovery process. Through the same process, Regina and her colleague Jim Collins discovered halicin, a new antibiotic, and abaucin, a compound that has proven effective against the superbug Acinetobacter baumannii. Regina added: "AI will eventually treat diseases for which there is not yet a drug, and help replace drugs with severe side effects."


Drug developers are seeking to speed up the testing and developing of new drugs with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).

Researchers at universities and pharmaceutical giants are testing how AI could drastically cut the length of the discovery and development phase of new treatments, which can typically last "12 years or more", said Vox.

Scientists are using AI to find patterns across "large bodies of disparate data" and produce hypotheses that they "could or would not come up with on their own", said The Economist. These are then tested and used to identify potential new drugs or even "new applications for old drugs".

The Week