Hong Kong and New York-based Insilico Medicine, a biotech company backed by Fosun Group and Warburg Pincus, has begun human trials for a drug completely discovered and designed by artificial intelligence, The Financial Times (FT) reported.
Calling it an important milestone in the pharma industry, the company said that it has dosed a patient in China with its drug INS018_055 to treat the chronic lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
The company’s founder, Alex Zhavoronkov, said in an interview, “For Insilico, it is the moment of truth…but it is also a true test for AI and the entire industry should be watching.”
The company has raised billions of dollars to develop AI tools for drug development. The AI platforms, according to Zhavoronkov, can halve the time usually taken to discover drugs as well as the cost of bringing medicines to market.
According to a recent report by Morgan Stanley, AI in the pharma sector provides a market opportunity worth $50 billion.
Also Read : Virgin Galactic reveals crew boarding its first commercial spaceflight
In the case of the new drug under trial, Insilico’s AI tools did not save much time in clinical development but “improved the probability of success” of the drug. According to Zhavoronkov, AI also recruited patients who were most likely to respond to the therapy.
These platforms can crunch huge amounts of data rapidly, identify proteins that cause illness, and finally, the molecules that can be made into medicines.
Insilico conducted phase 1 trials on INS018_055 in New Zealand and China, which it said demonstrated “favourable results” that supported a phase 2 trial. This trial will now recruit 60 people with IPF in China and the US to assess the safety, tolerability and preliminary efficacy of the drug.
The company also said that it decided to conduct trials in the clinic and not in collaboration with a pharma company to retain control of the program and further refine AI platform use.