SEOUL, April 2 (Korea Bizwire) — Artificial intelligence (AI), expected to change the paradigm of new drug development, is gaining new attention as it has proven to be very effective in the global battle with the coronavirus.
As the world suffers from the spread of COVID-19, the need for speed when it comes to discovering and developing new drugs has become even more dire, and the medical industry has been looking at artificial intelligence as means to effectively reduce the cost and time spent developing new treatments.
Both in South Korea and abroad, an increasing number of companies are introducing artificial intelligence to discover a cure for the coronavirus, and determine the severity among coronavirus patients.
Under normal circumstances, pharmaceutical companies look at more than 10,000 chemical formulations to create a new drug, which takes a significant amount of time.
Among drug producers, spending 1 trillion won (US$814 million) over 10 years to create a new drug is the norm rather than the exception.
AI technology, however, can significantly reduce the cost and time by reviewing more than 1 million copies of research simultaneously.
Local pharmaceutical company Theragen Etex Co., for instance, used AI technology to discover five formulations for a coronavirus cure among 1,880 drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Synteka Bio also used an AI platform to discover 30 formulations effective against the coronavirus among drugs approved by authorities.
The two companies plan to test the effectiveness of the formulations.
Korean-based medical AI company Lunit Inc. and Myongji Hospital in Goyang, northeast of Seoul, are also using artificial intelligence to test for the coronavirus.
An AI software developed by Lunit, detecting abnormalities in the lungs, is already being used at general hospitals in South Korea and abroad to test for the coronavirus.
The software analyses the X-ray scans of a patient’s lungs and pre-determines the images that need to be checked by the doctor.
The program was known to have significantly increased the efficiency of medical treatment, particularly in the midst of soaring numbers of patients.
Myongji Hospital teamed up with PhenoMx, an AI developer, to develop a new diagnosis program that speeds up coronavirus testing.
“The AI collects the patient’s data, and cross-references it with CT scans to deduce possibilities for coronavirus infection. The doctors make the final call based on the analysis,” a staff member at Myongji Hospital said.
“It can help the doctors make decisions on emergency patients who cannot wait six hours for the results of the test kit.”
“Discovering formulations for developing new drugs takes the most amount of time, which can be reduced if we use artificial intelligence,” said Lee Seung-Gyu, vice president of the Korea Biotechnology Industry Organization.
“There are reports that AI finished a job that would normally take five years in just two months.”
“In a global pandemic situation like we face today, speed is what matters, and AI is worth a try,” he added. “The effectiveness and accuracy of the drugs will be confirmed through animal and clinical tests.”
Ashley Song (firstname.lastname@example.org)