At the root of new health discoveries like vaccines or drugs, lie molecules with the properties needed for a desired result, such as immunity against a new pathogen, like COVID-19, new antibiotics or a new way to treat an old disease.
The process of identifying the molecules needed for a specific cause often takes more than 10 years, costs over $1 billion (US) and is a setback in many fields beyond healthcare. Artificial intelligence (AI) offers a faster, less expensive way of sorting through the large amount of data and huge candidate space to determine which molecules are the best fit.
National Research Council of Canada (NRC) scientists working in the Artificial Intelligence for Design (AI4D) Challenge program are developing ways to harness the power of AI for advancing scientific discovery for health and climate benefits, as part of a $2.5 million, 3-year project. Funding for this project is being provided by the NRC's Collaborative Science, Technology and Innovation Program.
Using AI, the team is currently accelerating the process of discovering molecules that can be used in healthcare and clean energy applications, while reducing costs. The project also focuses on molecule identification for developing green materials for clean energy, and on environmental protection, such as innovative battery technology to power electric vehicles or better methods for carbon capture and storage.