AI continues to demonstrate its potential to play a seismic role in shaping the future of drug discovery, as a recently discovered drug molecule will soon be entering clinical trials in Japan.

Joint research carried out by UK pharmaceuticals start-up Exscientia and Japanese pharmaceuticals firm Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma resulted in the discovery of a new drug, known as DSP-1181, through the use of AI and machine learning technologies. It is hoped that the drug will be used in the treatment of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), a condition affecting millions of people worldwide.

The project's exploratory phase was completed in less than a year, far sooner than the average amount of time it takes for a new drug to get to trial - approximately four and a half years. The trials will focus on measuring the efficacy of the AI-discovered drug in treating patients with OCD.

Exscientia's CEO described the entry of the drug into the clinic trial phase as "a key milestone in drug discovery". Other industry stakeholders will be following the future of the project with interest. Although not involved in the project, the Institute of Cancer Research's Chief Executive, Paul Workman, commented on the news: "I think AI has huge potential to enhance and accelerate drug discovery."

The Future of AI

The UK pharmaceuticals and life sciences industry will continue to watch closely as AI takes on an ever-greater role in drug discovery. With the success of this project, it is encouraging to see a young UK enterprise at the forefront of achievements in this field.