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New project uses artificial intelligence in drug development

In health care, artificial intelligence is quite normal: it is used, for example, as an aid in making diagnoses. However, artificial intelligence is not yet used as much in drug development. A new prestigious partnership is therefore going to investigate how artificial intelligence can contribute to the development of new drugs.

Multidisciplinary training

In order to be able to use artificial intelligence in the development of new medicines, researchers must have a lot of knowledge of both artificial intelligence and chemistry. Usually researchers have knowledge of one field. The new Innovative Training Network (ITN) Advanced Machine Learning for Innovative Drug Discovery (AIDD) therefore wants to train sixteen PhD students to become experts at the intersection of chemistry and artificial intelligence. 

“One Chemistry” model

Sixteen universities, including Leiden University, and various industrial partners combine theoretical and practical knowledge to discover new possibilities for the use of artificial intelligence in chemistry. The research focusses on the practical side, to, among other things, find methods to predict chemical reactivity, to develop a multi-expert computer system to discover new drugs and to use computer models to find new molecular compounds. In addition, the methods of the project should contribute to the "One Chemistry" model. With this model it should be possible to make reliable predictions about all kinds of factors, allowing biology and chemistry to cooperate better in the development of new drugs.

In the project, Helmholz Zentrum München (coordinator), Germany, AstraZeneca AB, Sweden, Bayer Aktiengesellschaft, Germany, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, Belgium, Enamine Limited Liability Company, Ukraine, Aalto University, Finland, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Austria, Scuola Universitaria Professionale della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland, TU Dortmund, Germany, Universiteit Leiden, Netherlands, Université du Luxembourg, Luxembourg, University of Vienna, Austria, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain and the Vancouver Prostate Center of the University of British Columbia, Canada work together. 
The project falls within the framework of the Marie-Skłodowska-Curie program, which stimulates international and interdisciplinary research. The ITNs are the most prestigious projects within this program. In total, the European Union is investing 3.93 million euros in this project, which will start on the 1st of January, 2021. 

Text: Chris Flinterman

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