Researchers develop ‘Minority Report’-like technology for drugs

Researchers Develop ‘Minority Report’-Like Technology For Drugs

There is a whole world of chemical ‘dark matter’ right outside our fingertips right now.

No, foreknowledge is nothing.

But people developing new designer drugs are predictable, it seems.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver and other universities have trained a computer to predict the molecular structure of new drugs.

“There’s a whole world of chemical ‘dark matter’ right outside our fingertips right now. I think there’s a huge opportunity for the right AI tools to shed light on this unknown chemical world,” said Dr. Michael Skinnider in a press He completed the research as a PhD student at UBC.

Designer drugs are newly designed drugs that circumvent the law; they tend to be very similar to previously developed drugs and have similar effects, but are different enough not to technically fall under the laws regulating the drug they were supposed to mimic, such as new versions of bath salts and synthetic opioids.

Using data collected around the world on illicit drugs, researchers trained the computer to come up with new drugs that hadn’t yet been made, but would meet the parameters. It came with 8.9 million different chemical designs.

Then they compared 196 new designer drugs, which did not exist when the computer was initially programmed, with the drugs he had devised.

The computer, a deep neural network, had invented more than 175 of the drugs.

“The fact that we can predict which designer drugs are likely to hit the market before they actually appear is a bit like the 2002 sci-fi movie, Minority Report, where insider information about criminal activity that’s about to go. taking place helped to significantly reduce crime in a future world,” explains Dr David Wishart of the University of Alberta, who was the lead author of the study paper.

Now that the computer can predict which chemicals will show up in the near future, law and public health officials can get a head start. Previously, it took months to identify a new designer drug after it was found by authorities. Now it takes days.

“The vast majority of these designer drugs have never been tested on humans and are completely unregulated. They are a major public health problem for emergency departments around the world,” said Dr. Skinnider.

The model did more than just identify the structures; it was also able to predict which ones were more likely to hit the market.

While the technology was used this time to identify drugs, it could be used in other molecular structure research.

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