Medical Lab Works with AI-backed Biotech Firm for COVID Cure


Department of Energy, the University of Tennessee and biotech firm BERG team-up to introduce AI into drug development.

As the healthcare industry tries to speed up for finding COVID-19 treatment, a partnership among the Department of Energy, the University of Tennessee and biotech firm BERG attempts to implement AI technology to accelerate the drug development timeline, according to Business Insider.

While the medical companies are trying to incorporate AI technology to the research process, one problem remains. The companies need to find a computing power to study the hundreds of millions of possible molecular interactions. The collaboration among the Department of Energy, the University of Tennessee and BERG could potentially solve this problem.

According to a Wednesday announcement, the organizations will use BERG’s AI software and its supercomputer, the most powerful in the world, to find coronavirus treatment.

The organizations are confident in their partnership. BERG CEO Niven Narain said. He told Business Insider that the project is “bringing together the best of biology, the most powerful supercomputer capability, the molecular biophysics … and the Bayesian AI capabilities.” Director at the University of Tennessee Jeremy Smith added that, “We are capable of screening hundreds of millions of compounds in the morning, whereas without the use of that supercomputer the same calculations take months.”

This is the first time that a supercomputer is used to implement AI technology to the drug development process, BERG announced.

“This is really a first. It's bringing together all of these sub-disciplines with the level of robustness and power from compute capability,” said Narain. “It could be a model that (permeates) outside of the scope of COVID to really challenge the way that drugs are looked at.”

While the standard drug development timeline means three to five years of work to put a targeted drug into clinical trials, Narain believes that the three organizations together can reduce the timeline by 50 percent or more.

See the full report here.


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