We all have heard about how beneficial AI can be in health. There are plenty of papers and research about confronting diseases, like cancer. However, in 2020 with COVID-19 be one of the most serious health problems that have caused thousands of deaths worldwide.

Is AI already being used in the drug industry to combat the COVID-19? If yes, can you, please, provide a reference?

  • $\begingroup$ I have changed your question so that this post is more useful. Note that I have already asked a similar question: ai.stackexchange.com/q/18701/2444, but your question now is slightly different. $\endgroup$
    – nbro
    May 8, 2020 at 11:20

2 Answers 2


A global race is underway to discover a vaccine, drug, or combination of treatments that can disrupt the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The problem is, there are more than a billion such molecules. A researcher would conceivably want to test each one against the two dozen or so proteins in SARS-CoV-2 to see their effects. Such a project could use every wet lab in the world and still not be completed for centuries.

Computer modelling is a common approach used by academic researchers and pharmaceutical companies as a preliminary, filtering step in drug discovery. However, in this case, even every supercomputer on Earth could not test those billion molecules in a reasonable amount of time.

Folding@home is a distributed computing project run by Stanford University. The aim of the project is to examine how proteins fold and it does this using spare computing power. however, there is a lot of research in progress that are harnessing the potential of Artificial intelligence to develop the potential treatment to combat the COVID-19.

Check this recent article By Tyler Orton in biv focus on how artificial intelligence is used to accelerate the process of Drug Discovery: Drug research turns to artificial intelligence in COVID-19 fight

Here are the list of some companies that are using AI-driven approach for Drug discovery

The Hong Kong-based company Insilico Medicine, a developer of comprehensive drug discovery and biomarker development platform GENTRL, and a pioneer in the application of generative adversarial networks (GANs) to drug discovery.

Insilico Medicine, Publishes a paper in September last year titled, Deep learning enables rapid identification of potent DDR1 kinase inhibitors," in a most reputed journal Nature Biotechnology. The paper describes a timed challenge, where the new artificial intelligence system called Generative Tensorial Reinforcement Learning (GENTRL) designed six novel inhibitors of DDR1, a kinase target implicated in fibrosis and other diseases, in 21 days.

Four compounds were active in biochemical assays, and two were validated in cell-based assays. One lead candidate was tested and demonstrated favorable pharmacokinetics in mice.


I'm not sure if it is being used directly in the industry, but here is an interesting article on research being done by 3 UK universities using AI.


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