IBM Research Releases Cloud & AI-Based Resources To Accelerate COVID-19 Drug Discovery

IBM Research Releases Cloud & AI-Based Resources To Accelerate COVID-19 Drug Discovery
Image © IBM Research Releases Cloud & AI-Based Resources To Accelerate COVID-19 Drug Discovery

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As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, IBM Research has been actively participating with its innovative technologies to help researchers across a variety of scientific disciplines accelerate the process of combating this virus. Along with providing supercomputing power enabling researchers to understand the virus better, the Big Blue is now making multiple cloud and artificial intelligence-based resources available for free in order to help healthcare researchers, doctors, and scientists around the world accelerate COVID-19 drug discovery. 

According to the company statements, the resources can help in gathering insights, applying the latest virus genomic information and identifying potential targets for treatments, to creating new drug molecule candidates, the company said in a statement.

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IBM claimed that even though some of the resources are still in exploratory stages, the company is giving access to qualified researchers at free of cost in order to aid the international scientific investigation of COVID-19.

The announcement follows IBM’s launch of the supercomputers into the global fight against COVID-19. 

IBM Creating Data Streamlining

According to the IBM’s statement, the healthcare agencies and governments across the globe have quickly collated medical and other relevant data about the pandemic, in order to use it for medical research that could prove relevant to COVID-19.

 It states,” Yet, as with any large volume of disparate data sources, it is difficult to efficiently aggregate and analyse that data in ways that can yield scientific insights.”

And, in order to aid researchers access structured and unstructured data quickly, the company has offered a cloud-based AI research resource that has been trained on several COVID-19 scientific papers contained in the open research dataset of the virus (CORD-19).

The statement stated, “This tool uses our advanced AI and allows researchers to pose specific queries to the collections of papers and to extract critical COVID-19 knowledge quickly,” the company said. However, access to this resource will be granted only to qualified researchers.”

IBM’s Cloud Resources Accelerating Treatment Discovery

IBM has stated in its statement that the conventional drug discovery pipeline relies on several aspects that are screened, improved, and tested to determine safety and efficacy.

The company said that there is a chance to improve the compound libraries with additional novel compounds in order to deal with new pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2. It said, “In order to deal with this issue, IBM Research has developed a new, AI-generative framework which can rapidly identify novel peptides, proteins, drug candidates and materials.”

 This artificial intelligence has been applied against three COVID-19 targets to identify 3,000 new small molecules as potential COVID-19 therapeutic candidates. For researchers to study them, IBM is releasing these molecules under an open license. Researchers will be able to use new interactive molecular explorer tools to understand their characteristics and relationship to COVID-19 and identify candidates that might have desirable characteristics to be further pursued in drug development.

 IBM is also creating the IBM Functional Genomics Platform and offering the same for free in order to streamline efforts in identifying new treatments for this pandemic.

 It stated, “This cloud-based repository and research has been built to find the molecular features in viral and bacterial genomes.” 

It further stated, “This tool includes genes, proteins and other molecular targets from sequenced viral and bacterial organisms in one place with connections pre-computed. This will, in turn, help in finding molecular targets required for drug design, test and treatment development.”

 Several government agencies, academic institutions and other organisations are already using this platform for bacterial genomic study.

IBM has also made this research tool available to clinicians and healthcare professionals, who are continually fighting against the disease. 

These tools will give users access to information related to COID-19 in a single and comprehensive search.

 For instance — IBM’s Micromedex online reference databases contain all sorts of medication information that is used by more than 4,500 hospitals and health systems worldwide. IBM is hopeful that releasing these novel tools will help accelerate this global effort.

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Sejuti Das
Sejuti currently works as Associate Editor at Analytics India Magazine (AIM). Reach out at sejuti.das@analyticsindiamag.com

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