Friday, 20 October 2017

New Method for Tissue Regeneration, Inspired by Nature

Tissue Regeneration

Tissue Regeneration through Vesicles


Elderly people as well as many others have suffered bone damage, teeth problems and the like at some point in their lives. While in elderly people, the occurrence of such problems may be common place, there is still a percentage of middle age as well youth who go through bone related issues in their lives.

Repairing bones, teeth and cartilage today is not a cheap affair. Methods involving one’s own cells to regenerate tissue or methods involving tissue taken from other patients are all very expensive and have associated problems to the patient like patient morbidity.

Having bone related issues can affect a person’s quality of life detrimentally. Research shows that by the year 2020 bone fractures would have gone up to such an extent that the incoming patients would put a tremendous strain on healthcare facilities. It also shows that fractures caused by osteoporosis alone will cost the NHS a whopping 1.5 billion pounds to handle, not to mention the effect it would have on a person’s quality of life.

Given all of the above, it is time to look at other methods to regenerate tissue growth in an individual and scientists have done just that. Researchers have stimulated cells to make nano- sized particles called vesicles to regenerate tissue. This method of tissue regeneration can be used to repair teeth, cartilage and bone.

In the past researchers have used cell based methods to regenerate tissue but this process involved a lot of costs, regulatory issues and raised ethical objections. But with this new method of tissue regeneration using vesicles, all these issues are overcome. Tissue regeneration using this novel method uses the natural vesicles that are made during bone formation itself and does not take viable cells.

This new method of tissue regeneration using extracellular vesicles is combined with a phosphate. This type of tissue regeneration far out performs the current gold standards of tissue regeneration.
Although science cannot at this stage replicate cells in exactly the natural way it occurs in our bodies, this new approach at tissue regeneration allows researchers to move in the right direction and look to improve on methods to regenerate tissues in bones, teeth and cartilage.

This novel method uses our own body’s healing process to regenerate tissue. Right now current methods are lacking, in the sense that they cause patient morbidity and have other side effects that are all detrimental to a person’s health.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

New Target to Fight Motor Neurone Disease Using Gene Therapy

In the UK, six people die each day from Motor Neurone Disease, which results in paralysis that is progressive as the nerves supplying muscles deteriorate for reasons that are not fully known. At a given time, there are almost half a million people all over the world that have this condition but in most of the cases the reason why the nerves supplying muscles or the motor neurons die is not known. The most common known reason is a gene mutation known as C9ORF72.About 1 out of 10 Motor Neurone Disease cases is related to having an extended repeating region of DND in a portion of the C9ORF72 gene that is uncommonly converted into protein.

Scientists at SITraN have stumbled upon an important trail in the C9ORF72-linked Motor Neurone Disease by probing into the molecular principals of the behaviour pattern of this gene’s products in the cell. Testing patients’ cells and minute models of the Motor Neurone Disease indicatethat focusing on this plan is a unique way to tackle the nerve cells degeneration that takes place in Motor Neurone Disease.

Dr Guillaume Hautbergue from the University of Sheffield, who has spent over 25 years studying the molecular biology of RNA, also studied mechanisms that transfer messenger RNA to the cell cytoplasm from the nucleus through a model of how this functions in humans. Interpreting the findings in vital discovery science into actual profits for patients is the ultimate goal for SITraN and so using Dr Hautbergue’s findings in the RNA biology field has now led to the innovation of a new beneficial approach of neuroprotection in Motor Neurone Disease and possibly other diseases that are neurodegenerative.

While the primary function of DNA is to code for proteins that are to be built in the cell, we are aware that many DNA does not, after all, code for protein, like the region that is repetitive of the C9ORF72 gene. The repeated region is simply left out of the RNA replica of the gene before it is sent out of the nucleus, in its healthier version. Dr Hautbergue and his colleagues have developed their expertise in the field of RNA nuclear export mechanisms.

They have also put in a research in the area of the pathological recurring originator RNA molecules that is generally restrained in the nucleus itself. These may be getting exported out to the cell cytoplasm where the protein is produced, which is toxic in nature. Findings showed that only one component of the nuclear-cytoplasm transport system was the reason for the transportation of the RNA out of the nucleus and into the cytoplasm. This is a protein called SRSF1 and a significant discovery found in this research is that this protein in required only to assist the pathological C9ORF72 RNA to exit the nucleus.

Rest of all the other useful RNAs that code proteins can get to the cytoplasm without this. There were no undesirable effects in the fruitfly models and culture cells from the MND patients once the SRFS1 was partially removed from them using gene therapy and the only result was that the toxic dipeptide replicates were prevented from being formed. This is the first instance where the nuclear export of the RNAs that are pathologically repeated has been made clear in a neurologically degenerative disease and it is revealed for the first time that focusing on this method provides a reliable remedial approach of neuroprotection.

Surprisingly there are a number of other genes that cause diseases that are neurodegenerative such as Huntington’s disease, Myotonic Dystrophy, Fragile-X associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome and other disorders that have an effect on muscle dexterity. These include related recurring expansions like those found in the C9ORF72-MND gene.

So observing whether those expansions are transformed into proteins that are toxic and whether this can be avoided by deactivating a particular nuclear exporter also, this might give rise to a whole new avenue of possibilities for research in the field of neurodegenerative disorders treatment. An application with exclusive copyrights was filed for the use of SRSF1 adversary in the treatment of neurological disorders.
 
The Technology Explained
 
The approach of gene therapy used in the research utilised a virus that was engineered therapeutically, to get an RNA molecule inside the cell that would meddle with RNA for the manufacture of SFSR1. Interfering RNA thwarts the production of the targeted protein. Efficiently pulling down the quantity SFSR1 in the cell blocked the toxic C9ORF72 dipeptide repeat protein from being produced and salvaged the cell from neurodegeneration. Using viruses in the gene therapy is exceptionally successful as the virus remains inside the cell and incessantly creates the therapeutic interfering RNA for an extensive duration while the treatment of a genetic disease is going on.

At SITraN, Dr Hautbergue along with colleagues Prof MimounAzzouz and Prof Pamela Shaw are at present making efforts to collaborate with companies such as AveXis Inc. and Pfizer to further develop on a translational gene therapy program.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Light-Dependent Regulation of Sleep and Wake States

Lights Out: The Neural Association between Sleep and Light

Humans are animals that are diurnal in nature, that is, we sleep during the night time and are awake and active during the day, as a result of light partly available or completely absent. It has been observed that light indirectly affects sleep by altering the length of our circadian rhythms a bit, quickly and directly due to an occurrence called as masking. But while a lot of information is available about how the circadian rhythms are affected by light, there is very little knowledge about the how light affects sleep directly: Why does one’s sleep gets disturbed if the lights are switched on in the middle of the night? Why does being in d dark enable us to sleep better?

Caltech researchers in Professor of Biology David Prober’s laboratory said that they have discovered the answer partly: a particular protein in the brain that is responsive to light and its absence sets and maintains the accurate balance between sleep and alertness. Prober also added that earlier, researchers had recognized the photoreceptors present in the eye to be essential for the direct outcome of light on sleep and wakefulness but how the brain uses this ocular data to induce and control sleep was unknown.

Zebrafish was used as a model organism for observing the sleeping pattern at the Prober laboratory. These organisms are visually transparent, which allows for non-invasive recording of their neurons through images. They also have diurnal sleep and wake patterns similar to like that of humans.

To study and observe in their experiment, how their sleep is responsive to the availability or absence of light, a former graduate in Prober's lab, Wendy Chen, directed the studies where they examined a specific protein present in the zebrafish brain called prokineticin 2 (Prok2).

Chen genetically engineered zebrafish to excessively produce Prok2, which resulted in the availability of the protein in a large quantity. She observed that in comparison to normal zebrafish, these animals were more liable to fall asleep during the day and stay awake at night.

Amazingly, the effects did not rely on the engineered fish's typical circadian sleep/wake cycle but to a certain extent depended only on whether the lights were switched on or off in their surroundings. These studies put forward that a surplus of Prok2 restrains both the natural awakening result of light and the sedating outcome of darkness.

Chen then produced zebrafish with metamorphosed structures of Prok2 and its receptor, and studied the sleep defects in these animals that were dependent on light. For instance, Chen found that a zebrafish with an altered Prok2 receptor were more alert and active in the presence of light and less active in the absence of it, which was quite the contrary of what she had noticed in the animals that over expressed Prok2 and had Prok2 receptors that were functional.

Prober stated his observations saying that although diurnal animals like zebrafish for example, spend their nights sleeping and are awake during the day, they also take small naps during the course of the day and sometimes wake up at night which is very similar to what humans do.

He also added that their experiment’s results put forward that levels of Prok2 play a very vital role in maintaining the accurate balance between wakefulness and sleep during both the course of the day and night.

In their next step, the researchers wanted to observe and study how Prok2 was adapting the effect of light on sleep. To find out the answer to this question, they decided to observe whether other proteins present in the brain that affect sleep, were needed for of Prok2 to have an effect on sleep behaviour.

They found that that the sleep-inducing effect of Prok2 over expression in light requires galanin, which is a protein that promotes sleep. They also observed that Prok2 over expression enhanced the level of galanin expression in the key sleep-promoting centre of the brain, the anterior hypothalamus. But in the animals that were engineered to be deficient in galanin, over expression of Prok2 did not enhance sleep.

These conclusions offer the foremost insights into how light interrelates with the brain to affect sleep and provide a foundation for scientists to start discovering the genes and neurons that trigger the occurrence. However, additional work is required to understand fully describe how light and dark directly impact sleeping and waking, and to establish whether Prok2 has a function akin to humans. If it does, these studies will ultimately result in new drugs that promote sleep and wake.

The title of this paper is based on regulation of sleep/wake states dependent on light with the help of prokineticin 2 in zebrafish. Postdoctoral scholars Chanpreet Singh and Grigorios Oikonomou are other Caltech co-authors.

Sabine Reichert and Jason Rihel of University College London also made contributions to this study. The National Institutes of Health; the Edward Mallinckrodt, Jr. Foundation; the Rita Allen Foundation; and the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation funded the work.

Monday, 25 September 2017

One Vaccine Injection Could Carry Many Doses

Library of Tiny/Encased Vaccine Particles

 
An innovative 3-D fabrication system has been designed by the MIT engineers that tend to generate a novel kind of drug-carrying particle enabling various doses of a drug or vaccines to be provided over an extended time period with only an injection.

 The innovative micro particles are said to be made of biocompatible, FDA approved polymer that can be considered to degrade at specific times, spilling out the contents of the `cup’. Robert Langer, the David H Koch Institute Professor at MIT had commented that they are excited regarding this work since for the first time they can create a library of tiny, encased vaccines particles wherein each are programmed to release at an accurate, predictable time in order that individuals could probably receive a single injection which in effect would tend to have several boosters that are built in it already.

This could have a substantial influence on the victims everywhere particularly in the developing world where the person’s compliance seems to be at the lowest. A research scientist at MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, Ana Jaklenec and Langer are the senior authors of the paper which appeared online in Science on Sept 14.
 

Several Doses of Vaccines/One Injection

 
The lead authors of the paper are postdoc Kevin McHugh and earlier postdoc Thanh D. Nguyen presently an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Connecticut. As part of a project subsidized by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Langer’s lab started working on the innovative drug delivery particles that was looking for means of delivering several doses of vaccines over specified period to time with only one injection.

This would enable babies in developing nations who may not see a doctor often to get one injection after birth which would deliver all of the vaccines they would need during the first one or two years of life. Langer had earlier developed polymer particles with drugs implanted all over the particle enabling them to be gradually released over a period of time. But the researchers needed to come up with a way to deliver short burst of a drug at particular intervals, for the project to mimic the manner in which a series of vaccines could be administered.
 

PLGA – Biocompatible Polymer

 
In order to accomplish their goal on drug or vaccines, they started to cultivate a sealable polymer cup made from PLGA that is a biocompatible polymer which had been already approved for usage in medical devices like the implants, sutures as well as prosthetic devices.

It is said that PLGA could also be intended in degrading at various rates enabling for fabrication of numerous particles which tend to release their contents at various times. Conservative 3-D printing techniques is said to incompatible for the material as well as the dimension which the researchers needed and hence they had to create a new method of fabricating the cups gaining inspiration from computer chip manufacturing.

They developed silicon molds for the cups as well as the lids utilising the photolithography. Huge selections of around 2,000 molds are placed on a glass slide wherein these are utilised in shaping the PLGA cups (cups with edge lengths of some hundred microns) and lids. The researchers had engaged a custom-built, automated dispensing method of filling each cup and the system was heated slightly till the cup and lid fused together, sealing the drug within, when the selection of polymer cups had been shaped.
 

StampED Assembly of Polymer Layers

 
Jaklenec had stated that every layer is fabricated at first on its own and thereafter assembled together. Part of the novelty is really in how they align and seal the layers. By doing so they developed a new system which could make structures that current 3-D printing methods are unable to do. The latest system is known as SEAL – StampED Assembly of polymer Layers, and can be utilised with any thermoplastic material enabling fabrication of microstructures with complex geometries that tend to have broad application comprising of injectable pulsatile drug delivery, pH sensors together with 3-D microfluidic devices.

An assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University, Leon Bellan stated that the approach tends to provide an impressive amount of control in constructing 3-D micro particles. Bellan who had not been involved in the study stated that it seems to be a new take on 3-D printing procedure as well as an elegant solution in building macroscopic 3-D structures out of material which are relevant for biomedical application.

The molecular weight of the PLGA polymer together with the backbone structure of the polymer molecule tends to regulate how quick the particles could degrade after the vaccines. The rate of degradation determines when the drug would be released and on injecting several particles which degrade at varied rates, the researcher could create a strong burst of drug or vaccines at predetermined time point.
 

Vaccines in One Shot

 
McHugh had stated that in the developing world that could be the variance between not getting vaccinated and receiving all of the vaccines in one shot. The researchers showed that in mice, particle release in sharp bursts without previous leakage was at 9, 20 and 41 days after the injection. Thereafter they examined particles that were filled with ovalbumin, which is a protein that is found in egg whites and is generally utilised to experimentally motivate an immune response.

Utilising a mixture of particles which tend to release ovalbumin at 9 and 41 day after injection they discovered that a particular injection of these particles had the capabilities of inducing a strong immune response which was equivalent to that triggered by two conservative injections with twice the dose. Besides this, the researchers also designed particles which could degrade as well as release hundreds of days after the injection.

 The researcher state that one experiment of developing long-term vaccine based on these particles is of ensuring that the encapsulated drug or vaccines tends to be stable at body temperature for a long time before being released. They now intend to test these delivery particles with various drugs comprising of prevailing vaccines like inactivated polio vaccine together with fresh vaccines which are in the development stage. Moreover they are also working on plans of stabilizing the vaccines.

The researchers have also designed particles that can degrade and release hundreds of days after injection. One challenge to developing long-term vaccines based on such particles, the researchers say, is making sure that the encapsulated drug or vaccine remains stable at body temperature for a long period before being released. They are now testing these delivery particles with a variety of drugs, including existing vaccines, such as inactivated polio vaccine, and new vaccines still in development. They are also working on strategies to stabilize the vaccines.

“The SEAL technique could provide a new platform that can create nearly any tiny, fillable object with nearly any material, which could provide unprecedented opportunities in manufacturing in medicine and other areas,” Langer says. These particles could also be useful for delivering drugs that have to be given on a regular basis, such as allergy shots, to minimize the number of injections.

Other authors on the paper are Allison Linehan, David Yang, Adam Behrens, Sviatlana Rose, Zachary Tochka, Stephanie Tzeng, James Norman, Aaron Anselmo, Xian Xu, Stephanie Tomasic, Matthew Taylor, Jennifer Lu, and Rohiverth Guarecuco.

Friday, 22 September 2017

As 'Flesh-Eating' Leishmania Come Closer, a Vaccine Against Them Does, Too

Leishmania – Second-Deadliest Parasite in the World

 
Parasites which affect the skin and can mutilate the face; tend to seriously damage the internal organs, have been coming nearer to the southern edges of the United States. Though no vaccines are available against Leishmania, researchers have almost come close in bringing about a change.

 An innovative experimental vaccine complete with proprietary biological particles established at the Georgia Institute of Technology tends to have immunized laboratory mice which had been genetically changed to imitate the human immune system. As per a new research, the vaccine is said to exploit a weakness which the tricky chemical mask in Leishmania tends to generally hide from the disease fighting cells of the victim to activate a forceful immune response against the parasite.

According to the World Health Organization, Leishmania is said to be the second-deadliest parasite in the world surpassed only by malaria. There are around 30 strains of Leishmania. They are said to be transmitted mostly through the bit of a phlebotomine sand fly that tends to feed on the blood. The global warming has been expanding the potential habitat of the insect towards the north of Latin America. The epidemic regions nearest to the United States of leishmaniasis, the disease affected by the parasite has come now almost to 300 miles of the border.
 

Leishmania –Different Symptoms

 
With those who contract Leishmania, the parasite is said to cultivate leishmaniasis and the disease tends to have different symptoms or probably also shows no outwards indication of the disease. However when it tends to break out, it could cause grave skin boils as well as some types of severely eat away at the nose and lips and also removal of some parts of them. If another type of the parasite tends to get into the bloodstream it could also injure the liver as well as the spleen in the most dangerous way of the disease known as the visceral leishmaniasis which is also called black fever.

A professor in the parasitology department of the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil and also one of the lead researchers on the new experimental vaccine, Alexandre Marques had commented that `if it is not treated within 20 to 40 days, visceral leishmaniasis often tends to kill the victim’. However conventional treatment generally effective could leave small numbers of the parasite that could lead to relapse in the patient or act as a carrier in a likewise manner as in the case of malaria. A vaccine would prove to be helpful in preventing epidemics.

Leishmania are said to be single-cell organisms which are the size of large bacteria that have been a menace in around 90 countries in South America, the Middle East, Africa and Asia together with southern Europe. Researchers have been working to discover a vaccine against them and identical parasites with much success for years.

 M. G. Finn leading the work on the new vaccine had commented that in comparison to viruses and bacteria, there seems to be much more complex organisms and more tough to crack. Finn is said to be a professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Biological Sciences and in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry which he also heads.

The innovative vaccine leverages intimate knowledge which the team of Marques had obtain living as well as working on the edge of leishmaniasis epidemics areas. Finn had informed that one of the students of Marques, Alex had gathered the sand flies and then extracted the parasites in the lab to do complex mass spectrometry together with the other tests to research the molecular makeup in impressive detail. The team had discovered minute details on the exterior surface of Leishmania which tends to make it susceptible to human immune reaction.
 

New Vaccine Employs Fake Virus

 
The prospective of the new vaccine, designed at Georgia Tech tends to employ a fake virus as an inducement to draw major immune systems forces to these faults to attack them. The replica virus or virus-like particles does not seem to be infectious and the body terminates it after usage. Several variations of such particles in recent years had been developed at the lab of Finn together with other products comprising of the same have already been through phase II human clinical trials.

The results of their vaccination development as well as testing had been published by Marques and Finn on September 13, 2017 in the journal ACS Central Science. It is said that the research had been financed by the National Institutes of Health, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta as well as Brazil’s National council for Scientific and Technological Development. The following queries and answers would be beneficial in comprehending how the vaccine could influence the chemical facade of Leishmania:

What is so tricky regarding chemical fa├žade of Leishmania?

The parasites are said to cover themselves in carbohydrates that seem like food and also tend to cover the other cells in the body. To the body, the Leishmania cells seem inoffensive and the immune system has a tendency to leave them alone.

What is the crack in the facade? 

Some of these carbohydrates tend to truly generate a mild human immune response which is not adequately strong to actually combat Leishmaniasis. However it gave Marques and Finn’s vaccine some headway. It is fortunate that humans as well as some other primates tend to have this precise immune reaction, since the other mammals do not and hence this vaccine would not work on them. To test the new vaccine, the laboratory mice had to be genetically changed to make their immune system react to the carbohydrates the way it tends to do for humans.

How does the fake virus tend to function? 

Finn had informed that they used the virus-like particles to enhance a key carbohydrate on the surface of Leishmania clearly to the body. This tends to persuade its immune system in reacting strongly against it like a foreign structure.

The immune system tends to go after the false virus like guard dogs after an intruder. The researchers had attacked the odd carbohydrate to the false virus which made the immune system recognize that carbohydrate as a severe risk. Immune cells then hunt it down and in this process tend to eliminate the parasite which creates it.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Pen Identifies Cancer in 10 Seconds

Pen

The MasSpec Pen – Device of Identifying Cancerous Tissue

As per scientist at the University of Texas, a handheld device has the potential of identifying cancerous tissue in a matter of 10 seconds. It is said that it could enable surgery in removing a tumour much quicker, safer with accuracy. It is likely that it would save on any anguish of leaving traces of cancer behind. The experiments published in Science Translational Medicine have recommended that the technology tends to be 96% precise.

 The MasSpec Pen is said to take the benefit of the exclusive metabolism of cancer cells. Their frantic drive to develop and spread would mean that their internal chemistry could be different to that of healthy tissue. It operates when the pen is touched to a suspected cancer area and then releases a tiny droplet of water. The chemicals within the living cells is said to transfer into the droplet wherein it is then sucked back up to the pen for analysis.

The pen is said to be plugged in a mass spectrometer which is a bit of a kit that has the capability of measuring the mass of thousands of chemicals each second. It is said to create chemical fingerprint which informs doctors if they are looking at healthy tissue or cancer. 
 

Challenge – Border Between Cancer & Common Tissue

 
Surgeons are faced with the challenge of locating the border between the cancer and common tissue. It tends to be clear in some tumours though in case of others, the boundary seems to be unclear between healthy and diseased tissue. This device could be helpful to doctors in ensuring that no trace of the cancer is left behind in the patient.

The removal of too little tissue and any trace of cancerous cells could develop into another tumour. However taking too much could cause damage, especially in cases of organs like the brain. Assistant professor of chemistry, Livia Eberlin, at the University of Texas, Austin, had informed BBC that `what’s exciting about this technology is how clearly it meets a clinical need. The tool is sophisticated and simple and can be in the hands of surgeons in a short time’. As part of the research, the technology had been verified on 253 samples and the intention is to continue verifying in order to refine the device before conducting tests during operation next year.
 

Modern Endeavour of Improving Precision of Surgery

 

The pen presently is said to examine a patch of tissue 1.5mm across though the researchers have developed pens already which seems to be more advanced and are capable of looking at improved area of tissue just 0.6mm across. The mass spectrometer is said to be costly and large though the pen is quite economical. The MasSpec Pen is considered to be the modern endeavour of improving the precision of surgery.

A team at Imperial College London is said to have created a knife which tends to smell the tissue it cuts in order to define whether it is eliminating cancer. Another team at Harvard have been utilising lasers in analysing how much of a brain cancer can be removed. From Cancer Research UK, Dr Aine McCarthy had stated that `exciting research such as this tends to have the possibility of speeding up on how doctors can determine if a tumour could be cancerous or not and be aware of its characteristics.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Better Drugs, Faster: The potential of AI-powered Humans

Artificial Intelligence

AI – Reduce Time in Development of New Drugs & Cost

Tech companies have stated that scientists working on with artificial intelligence could reduce the time it tends to take in the development of new drugs and significantly also the cost. Increasing pharmaceutical drugs seems to be a very expensive and time consuming affair.

As discovered by AstraZeneca recently, disappointing drug trials could knock millions off your stock market value in a blaze. Hence the sooner we tend to identify promising molecules before it can be turned into viable drugs, the better.

 This is the reason why pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline – GSK, Merck, Sanofi and Johnson & Johnson are now turning to artificial intelligence – AI to help them. Prof Andrea Hopkins is the chief executive of Exscientia which is an AI-based drug discovery firm that had recently signed a £33m deal with GSK.

As per Prof Hopkins, AI as well as human beings functioning collectively in a centaur team could be supportive in identifying candidate molecules in a quarter of the usual time and at a quarter of the cost. As per Prof Hopkins’s belief the centaur in Greek mythology is said to be half humans, half horse and seems to be very powerful as well as fast and AI has been providing scientists with such extra power.
 

`In Silico” – Medical Term for Research

 
Successful drug discovery is dependent on actual comprehension on how an ailment tends to affect our biological systems according to global life sciences industry leader at consultancy firm EY, Pamela Spence.

She clarifies that once it is identified scientists then search for molecule which can selectively interact with this target and reverse that disruption or slow its impact, a `hit molecule. Scientists often tend to discuss about a disease as the target and the molecule as a weapon being fired at it.

 However, the procedure of drug discovery, which is usually carried out by small groups of scientists carefully investing each potential target and hit molecule in the hope of discovering a winner, seems to be an enormously time-consuming method which also seems to have a very high failure rate.

She states that, considering artificial intelligence is like having a research assistant who has the potential of solving problems through systematic and relentless search at incredible speeds. She further added that what could work and equally essentially what could not work can be identified initially by the AI supercomputer `in silico’. This is said to be a medical term for research that has been done by computer as against `in vitro’ – think test tubes and `in vivo’ – testing on animals and humans.
 

Human Clinical Trials – Massive Bulks of Drug Discovery Cost

 
Conducting human clinical trials accounts for the massive bulks of drug discovery cost, and the quicker we tend to identify when something is not moving in the right direction the less money could be saved. Ms Spence had stated that then the physical testing can be conducted on a smaller number of possible new medicines and a much higher success rate can be achieved.

The artificial intelligence process of Exscientia heads masses of data from the structure of diseases to the ability of prevailing drugs, from peer-reviewed studies to observations of slides under a microscope. All these possibilities have been tapered down in a process where Prof Hopkins relates to natural selection.

He commented that they are not attempting to rule out the uncertainty, this is messy, dirty data and these are very interesting analogies between how human creativity tends to work and growth. The purpose is to come up with small molecules as candidates for around 10 disease-connected targets which could then be put through medical examinations.

Prof Hopkins, who is also chair of medicinal informatics at the UK’s Dundee University, had informed that every pill one may make could cost pence to manufacture though it is actually a precision-engineered product. He further added that there is almost infinite number of other molecules which could have been. One needs to make decisions as to which one could be safe and effective.

 

Cost – Target To Clinic

 
Most do not lead to anything. The artificial intelligence driven approach also tends to make it easy to come up with molecules which tend to have two diverse goals. For instance, a cancer drug tends to also improve the immune system and is also said to confront the disease.

GSK intends getting behind the idea and recently has set up a discovery performance unit directed on enhancing drug discovery via the use of `in silico’ technology comprising of artificial intelligence, machine learning together with deep learning.

The initiative is being headed by John Baldoni, head of R&D of GSK. He has commented that they have various amounts of these deals which they intend putting in place and the one with Exscientia is possibly the one which is furthest along.

 However they have a few others in flow as well a few internal projects themselves. He has also informed that the cost of discovery from target to launch is around $1.7bn (£1.3bn). The cost related here is from target to clinic which is around 33% of that and it would take about five and a half years. He added that their goal was to reduce that to one year and reduce the cost proportionate along with that.
 

AI-Based Drug Discovery – Effective/Cheaper Drugs – Quicker

 
Artificial intelligence has also been making its way into other characteristics of the drug discovery process. For instance, Benevolent AI tends to utilise natural language process in order to select through published literature like chemical libraries, medical databases together with scientific papers in order to come to some decisions regarding the possible new drug candidates.

One of the its candidates for a drug to treat motor neurone disease which is also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis – ALS, was earlier this year, found to prevent the death of motor neurones in cells taken from real patients and deferred the onset of the disease in animals.

The founder and chairman of Benevolent AI, Ken Mulvaney had commented that they were extremely encouraged by these discoveries. Patients need to be encouraged also. The artificial intelligence-based drug discovery tends to be promising in bringing about more effective, together with cheaper drugs on to the market in a much quicker manner.