Raven2: AI platform for novel drug discovery

Harnessing AI to find COVID-19 treatments in already approved drugs

Project Budget*- $1.9M

Partner Co-investment - $0.3M

Supercluster Co-investment - $1.6M

Variational AI Inc. – $1.63 M

*Contracted amounts as of September 30, 2020. 

Project Partners

Project Overview

While the global spread of COVID-19 continues at a rapid pace, the discovery, testing and approval of new drugs to fight the virus takes much longer. The first new vaccines for COVID-19 are now ready, but new drugs that treat the virus could take years. Yet, both vaccines and therapeutic drugs are needed.  

In response, a feasibility project called Rapid Repurposing of Drugs for COVID-19 began in April and concluded in July 2020. Led by Variational AI with the support of adMare BioInnovations and the Vancouver Prostate Centre (affiliated with the University of British Columbia), this project builds on the progress of the initial study in April to find COVID-19 treatments in already approved drugs. The new project’s drug discovery platform is based on the same AI algorithm, but enhanced significantly to analyze drugs from a much larger group of data and make accurate predictions on whether they could be effective against COVID-19. This process is called drug repurposing and is common in the pharmaceutical industry.

While multiple repurposed drugs have already entered clinical trials, many have stumbled or failed. Clinical trials are expensive and resource intensive, and only a limited number of drugs can be investigated at a given time, so ensuring that only high-probability repurposed drugs are tested is important to prevent wasting limited and precious clinical trial slots. 

This extension of the original study is developing a short list of drugs with a high probability of being effective against COVID-19. If suitable candidates are found, they could enter accelerated clinical trials in partnership with the pharmaceutical companies that own them. 

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