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Insilico Medicine Unveils First-Ever Drug Discovered and Designed by Artificial Intelligence

ByHuey Yee Ong

Mar 12, 2024
Insilico Medicine Unveils First-Ever Drug Discovered and Designed by Artificial Intelligence

Insilico Medicine, a biotech startup based in Hong Kong and New York, has unveiled a groundbreaking achievement in the field of drug discovery. In a new paper published in Nature Biotechnology, the company showcases what it claims to be the first AI-generated and AI-discovered drug, now advancing to Phase II clinical trials.

INS018_055: Targets Rare Lung Disease

The drug, named INS018_055, targets idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a rare yet severe lung disease. Utilizing Insilico’s AI platform, the drug candidate was discovered and designed through generative AI, marking a significant milestone in the integration of artificial intelligence into the drug development process.

According to Alex Zhavoronkov, the founder and CEO of Insilico, INS018_055 represents a breakthrough in drug discovery, with the target identified and prioritized using biology AI, while the molecule was generated using generative chemistry AI. This achievement not only validates the capabilities of Insilico’s Pharma.AI platform but also establishes a precedent for the potential of generative AI to accelerate drug discovery processes.

Accelerating the Process

Traditionally, drug development is a lengthy and risky endeavor involving extensive preclinical and clinical trials that span decades and cost billions of dollars. However, with the application of generative AI, Insilico was able to expedite the process significantly. Zhavoronkov revealed that reaching the first phase of clinical trials for INS018_055 took only two and a half years, a fraction of the time and cost estimated with traditional methods.

Kai-Fu Lee, chairman and CEO of Sinovation Ventures, an investor in Insilico, hailed the company’s achievement as a breakthrough in efficiently discovering medicines through the power of generative AI in chemistry and biology.

Despite typically refraining from celebration, Zhavoronkov expressed his excitement over this milestone, highlighting it as the culmination of a decade of work since Insilico’s founding in 2014. As a token of celebration, he humorously mentioned his plans to watch the movie “Dune” with a bag of popcorn, acknowledging the significance of this achievement in AI-driven drug discovery.


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Featured Image courtesy of DC Studio on Freepik

Huey Yee Ong

Hello, from one tech geek to another. Not your beloved TechCrunch writer, but a writer with an avid interest in the fast-paced tech scenes and all the latest tech mojo. I bring with me a unique take towards tech with a honed applied psychology perspective to make tech news digestible. In other words, I deliver tech news that is easy to read.