Technology giants are spearheading innovative initiatives to curb the coronavirus crisis in China, but AI-based med techs and startups from various regions including the US are joining the fray with their innovation to combat the pandemic situation, writes SMRITI SRIVASTAVA.
The pandemic outbreak of novel coronavirus has taken the world by storm. It has created a huge stir across the socio-economic landscape of various countries. Out of 195, the reports say, COVID-19 has infected 192 nations across the globe. While the death toll is rising in other countries like Italy, China is recovering from Wuhan-origin virus with no new domestic cases registered recently, since the outbreak. But how is China recovering while others are getting deep into the unhealthy mess? The answer is Artificial Intelligence and significant other disruptive technologies. The country is using AI, big data, robotics like mechanisms to fight against coronavirus. Tech giants like Baidu and Alibaba are spearheading innovative initiatives to curb the crisis. Apart from China, AI-based med techs and startups from various regions including the US are emerging at the forefront with their innovation to combat the pandemic situation.
Here is the list of top 10 AI-powered companies that are standing against the perils of COVID-19.
Bluedot is one of the first companies that sensed the upcoming healthcare crisis in December, even before the WHO. The company on December 30, analyzed a cluster of “unusual pneumonia” cases happening around a market in Wuhan, China, and flagged it. The key to BlueDot is big data. It uses natural language processing and machine learning to cull data from hundreds of thousands of sources, including statements from official public health organizations, digital media, global airline ticketing data, livestock health reports and population demographics.
Last month, Korea-based Deargen’s scientists published a preprint paper with the results from a deep learning-based model called MT-DTI which employs simplified chemical sequences instead of 2D or 3D molecular structures in an effort to predict how strongly a molecule of interest will bind to a target protein. According to its prediction, from available FDA-approved antiviral drugs, the HIV medication atazanavir is highly expected to bind and block a prominent protein on the outside of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The model also detected three other antivirals that can possibly bind the virus.
Baidu has made its Linearfold algorithm available to scientific and medical teams fighting the outbreak. The Linearfold algorithm, published in partnership with Oregon State University and the University of Rochester in 2019, is significantly faster than traditional RNA folding algorithms at predicting a virus’s secondary RNA structure. Analyzing the secondary structural changes between homologous RNA virus sequences (such as bats and humans) can provide scientists with further insight into how viruses spread across species. Due to the recent outbreak, Baidu AI scientists have used this algorithm to predict the secondary structure prediction for the Covid-19 RNA sequence, reducing overall analysis time from 55 minutes to 27 seconds, meaning it is 120 times faster.
Insilico Medicine, a startup based in Rockville, Md., says it has used artificial intelligence to rapidly identify molecules that could form the basis of an effective treatment against the coronavirus at the heart of the current outbreak. It took Insilico’s AI-based system four days to identify thousands of new molecules that could be turned into potential medicines against the virus. Insilico says it will synthesize and test 100 of the most promising candidates while publishing the full library of new molecular structures it has generated for other researchers to possibly use.
Alibaba Cloud, DAMO Academy, and DingTalk have joined forces to launch a series of AI technologies and cloud-based solutions to support companies and organizations worldwide in the fight against Covid-19. These solutions were developed by Alibaba Cloud using insights and experience accumulated during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. The new tech offerings are designed to help business decision-makers, researchers and medical practitioners address challenges across several major areas.
SRI Biosciences and Iktos
Iktos, a company specialized in artificial intelligence (AI) for novel drug design and SRI International (SRI), a research center headquartered in Menlo Park, California, recently announced that the companies have entered into a collaboration agreement designed to accelerate discovery and development of novel antiviral therapies. Under the collaboration, Iktos’ generative modeling technology will be combined with SRI’s SynFini™, a fully automated end-to-end synthetic chemistry system, to design novel, optimized compounds and accelerate the identification of drug candidates to treat multiple viruses, including influenza and the coronavirus (COVID-19).
EndoAngel Medical Technology Company
A separate AI developed by researchers from Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan EndoAngel Medical Technology Company, and the China University of Geosciences purportedly shows 95-percent accuracy on detecting COVID-19 in chest CT scans. The system is a deep learning algorithm trained on 45,000 anonymized CT scans. According to a preprint paper published on medRxiv, the AI’s performance is comparable to expert radiologists.
BenevolentAI, based in London, is developing and applying artificial intelligence for scientific innovation. The company’s Benevolent Platform is a leading computational and experimental drug discovery platform that enables scientists to uncover new ways to treat disease and personalize drugs for patients. The company focuses on target identification, molecular design, and precision medicine to better understand the underlying mechanisms of disease and to develop new treatments. BenevolentAI integrates AI technologies at every step of the drug discovery process, from early discovery to late-stage clinical development.
Google’s DeepMind is putting its artificial intelligence systems to a new task: trying to figure out certain properties of the novel coronavirus which has killed thousands in the past couple of months. Recently, DeepMind (which was acquired by Google in 2014 and is now a subsidiary of Alphabet), said it has put its AlphaFold system to create “structure predictions of several under-studied proteins associated with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.” These predictions haven’t been experimentally verified, DeepMind says, but they may help scientists understand how the coronavirus functions. This, in turn, may be of use when developing a vaccine or cure.
The Israel-based Medtech company, Nanox, has developed a mobile digital X-ray system that uses AI cloud-based software to diagnose infections and help prevent epidemic outbreaks. Dubbed the Nanox System, incorporates a vast image database, radiologist matching, diagnostic reviews and annotations, and also assistive artificial intelligence systems, which combine all of the above to arrive at an early diagnosis. Nanox is currently building on this technology to develop a new standing X-ray machine that will supply tomographic images of the lungs, noted Forbes.