Clinical trials have begun in the USA to evaluate the effectiveness and innocuousness of the first ever drug designed by a form of artificial intelligence. The product is a vaccine against seasonal flu which its creators believe is already more effective than products used to date. The exact composition of the serum is the fruit of the work of two different algorithms.
A vaccine against seasonal flu designed by a form of artificial intelligence (AI) is currently being tested in the USA. It is the first ever drug to have been entirely created by an algorithm. Called SAM (Search Algorithm for Ligands) by its developers, the programme has been used by researchers at the University of Flinders (Australia) to perfect an immunisation product.
Better product than serums currently in use
"We already know courtesy of tests on animals that the vaccine provides an increased degree of protection against flu, and one that is better than existing vaccines," Professor Nikolai Petrovsky, who heads the team which developed the serum, explained to Business Insider Australia. "Now we just need to confirm it on humans."
The researchers poured a mass of information into SAM about both the ingredients which stimulate the human immune system and those which have no effect on how it works. "The AI merely focused on understanding what distinguishes effective substances from those which do not work," the professor said.
Thousands of billions of variations analysed
Another programme created by the Australian researchers then drew up a list of thousands of billions of possible combinations of products. The composition of these substances was then analysed by the AI which was eventually able to isolate those which seemed to be the most adapted to making up the right vaccine.
The theoretical serums that had been validated by machine were then recreated in a laboratory and tested on human cells to verify the effectiveness on the immune system. The products were also subjected to trials on live animals.
Vaccine on the market in the next three years?
Petrovsky was pleased to point out that developing an immunising substance in this way saves an incredible amount of time and money, with the professor talking of a gain running into the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The scientific research has been carried out with the financial support of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. The clinical trials launched in the country on human patients are set to run for 12 months, with the vaccine created by the AI potentially being available in the next three years, and either replacing or being implemented alongside those designed by human researchers.
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