COVID-19 Vaccine - How Artificial Intelligence Can Play A Vital Role In Drug Development
By Parth Patel
The world around is waiting for this one announcement that we together have found the antidote for the infectious coronavirus which has taken the lives out of humans on the globe.
As the researchers, government and the tech giants are putting their best foot forward to find an effective drug that can help mitigate the spread of the virus and cure the patients infected due to the pandemic, a wave of using a highly advanced technology solution is spreading, acting as a call for these researchers to identify the anti-dote leveraging this technology.
Artificial intelligence has a great history of complementing human and making their lives easier and tech-friendly. Talking about vaccine development using AI, there are many frameworks associated with AI such as Machine Learning, Natural language processing, and Data Analytics which in its different form and usage play an important role in the research of the vaccine.
Well, moving forward we will have a look into the areas where the advanced AI technology can enrich vaccine development, but before we jump into it, let's look at some drawbacks of the traditional drug discovery process.
Loopholes in the traditional COVID-19 vaccine development process.
The traditional human-oriented drug discovery process involves testing each molecule which is expected to take years or decades to get a conclusion of its effectiveness as researchers find it difficult to identify the protein structure that works as an antidote for the diseases.
The researchers need to study over one billion molecules of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 and the connected proteins which are responsible for how the virus will behave or react in different bodies.
Combinations of antidotes are prepared to result in one which is highly immunogenic for a body to fight against the attack of such viruses in the future. But as it's stated it takes months for a body to show the results after the vaccine is injected.
The other disadvantage of the traditional process is there is a huge amount of data generated from the testing and the study of researchers from the labs and the research center around the world. This information is highly unstructured and vaguely placed to bring it to the right use to act as a combined strength to generate the right formula for the vaccine.
Well, there is a lot more to be added to the list like the side-effects of concurrent use of a different combination of antibodies to kill the virus might result in worsening of the situation as there would be no clarity of which combination worked out well.
Getting straight to the point, AI technology has a solution to all the above drawbacks of vaccine discovery, below is the stated list of the same.
Areas where its AI could act as a blessing for COVID-19 vaccine
● Understanding the protein’s structure
In order to understand the behavior of the virus with different bodies, recognizing the structure and the placement of its Protein becomes essential.
The sequence of amino acids combines to create a 3D structure of a protein, these proteins have thousands and millions of molecules to be placed in different positions to form different structures of the same pattern. Well, it's very hard for a human to test each pattern and structure in real life to find the exact antibody.
Using advanced AI technology makes this testing of the structure faster and easier. With the use of supercomputers combined with RADICAL-Cyber tools, the system is made to work on complex structures and workflow. The information is added to the workflow at different funnels adding and testing different elements like water and complex elements to generate different patterns.
Here the machine learning algorithms of the systems help to generate meaningful results from the created patterns.
● Accelerates the research process
There are thousands of researchers working on the development of the vaccines and using their knowledge to create something that can help humanity.
All these medically generated data and researches can be analyzed and made to better use if they are thoughtfully studied and interlinked to make a workflow that can lead to the vaccine generation.
Analyzing this data in real can be a time-consuming activity leading to a delay in the vaccine generation process.
AI with its exceptional machine learning algorithms can help create a platform to process such similar data in huge amounts and fetch some important outputs. It can help the researchers to find the most relevant research papers with just a query thus increasing the pace of the research process.
● Predicts and tracks the potential spread of target
Whether it's about using AI embedded robotic technology to avoid human touch or develop mobile apps and gadgets that detect the COVID-19 risk in the surrounding, the developments using the AI technology are helping people to combat the effect of coronavirus in one or the other way.
The huge amount of data generated from the medical reports and the real time data generating apps that are tracking the pattern in which the number is increasing in different areas can be used to predict the amount of spread and virus pattern using AI.
The produced data can be used to predict potential targets based on the opportunities of spread, which helps as information for the researchers to know the pace and the factors that act for the doubling nature of the virus.
One such effort was done by Bluedot, an AI startup, who detected a group of unusual pneumonia in some cases in Wuhan China, which made them research and predict the pattern of spread.
AI also helps to diagnose infections using Telemedicine apps, track the spread of the virus in real-time, and help in predicting risk to death and savoriness of the spread of the virus from the generated data.
Putting it to nutshell
COVID-19 vaccine development is the most burning topic for the world today. The increasing number of deaths and the risk of facing this invisible enemy has brought the governments of every country under pressure.
Having technology as Artificial intelligence can prove to be a life savior by helping the researchers accelerate the process of vaccine discovery to give humanity the drug to fight against these cruel pandemic diseases. There are various mobile app company are available to invent new software.
From identifying the protein structure to helping the scientist with their research process, AI with its components like machine learning and NLP can help invade the virus.