Up to now, machine learning in combination with patient data has been mainly used to successfully expand the number and type of patients that can benefit from existing medicines. But a new compound developed entirely by an AI to treat OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is to begin phase-1 clinical trials in the coming months. The drug which was co-developed by Oxford U. based AI start-up Exscientia and Japanese pharmaceutical company Sumitomo Dainippon took
just 12 months to reach the clinical trial stage. Drugs developed using normal methods typically take 4 years to go into human trials. The AI platform used algorithms to decide on the best chemical structure for the compound, which is targeted at a specific receptor in the brain involved in OCD. They were then were able to generate tens of millions of potential molecules, sift through the candidates and make a decision about which ones to synthesise and test. Given the time and billions of dollars that drugs normally take to develop today, we would expect this to be the first of many new drugs developed in this way to enter clinical trials in the coming years.