Researchers: AI spots possible coronavirus drug

A Japanese research team says it has developed an artificial intelligence system that can quickly scour numerous chemicals to determine candidate medicines for illnesses. It says the program has determined a candidate drug for the new coronavirus.

The announcement came from a group led by Distinguished Professor Nakayama Keiichi of Kyushu University's Medical Institute of Bioregulation.

Conventional mainstream methods to discover candidate drugs take time and effort as they involve experimenting with many chemicals one by one.

The group says its AI software learned more than 2.5 million combinations of pathogenic proteins and chemicals that can curb their effects.

It says the system can now search roughly 6,000 kinds of chemicals per minute and determine suitable drug candidates.

The group says the program came up with a former glaucoma medicine as a candidate drug for coronavirus. It says a cultured cell experiment confirmed that the drug can block viral infection.

Nakayama said the AI system can identify candidate medicines 10,000 times faster than humans. He added that he hopes the program will also make it quicker and easier to develop drugs for cancer and other illnesses.