The Korean government said it would spend 25.8 billion won ($21.7 million) on supporting the discovery and development of innovative medicines using artificial intelligence (AI) in the next three years.
The Ministry of Science and ICT and the Ministry of Health and Welfare plan to use the money for operating six research teams and management institutions composed of experts in big data, AI and new drug development.
The project focuses on building a customized AI platform for each phase of new drug development, including the discovery of candidate substances and clinical trials. The three leading areas -- discovering candidate agents, recreating new drugs, and smart drug monitoring -- are expected to produce the best results of technology development, the government said.
For AI-powered drug candidate discovery, AI-using drug development startup Arontier, Chung-Ang University, Daegu Gyeongbuk Medical Innovation Foundation, and Ewha Woman's University will conduct a study to develop an AI platform.
The state project also includes research support for recreating new drugs, which could reduce costs by skipping safety verification that had been already proven through trials and regulatory reviews.
To build a platform for recreation of new drugs, a KAIST research team plans to develop a deep learning model that replicates the existing mechanism of drug actions and conduct verification tests.
To improve the drug monitoring system which used to be possible only after the release of a pharmaceutical product, Asan Medical Center will build a system to predict adverse drug reactions using machine learning of big data on immunotherapies.
The government expects that a successful implementation of the project could reduce the average time for new drug development by half from 15 years to seven years.
The government will open up the developed platform later so that researchers and companies can use it freely. After the project closure, research institutes will own the platform to keep it updated and applied well.
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