IBM today announced the launch of services intended to furnish researchers with resources to fight the novel coronavirus. The company made molecules identified by AI as therapeutic candidates available under an open license, and it introduced a free version of its Functional Genomics Platform to support genome features discovery. Additionally, it provided free access to over 1,000 pieces of evidence-based curated COVID-19 and infectious disease content, and it rolled out an AI search engine trained on the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset to allow researchers to quickly find answers to questions.
According to Dario Gil, director of IBM Research, IBM created a new AI-generative framework that can rapidly create novel peptides, proteins, drug candidates, and materials, which it applied against three targets to create 3,000 new small molecules as potential COVID-19 therapeutic candidates. Researchers can study them via an interactive tool to understand their characteristics and relationship to COVID-19, and to identify molecules that might have desirable properties to be pursued in drug development.
“The traditional drug discovery pipeline relies on a library of compounds that are screened, improved, and tested to determine safety and efficacy,” said Gil. “In dealing with new pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, there is the potential to enhance the compound libraries with additional novel compounds.”
The Functional Genomics Platform complements this with a cloud-based repository of genes, proteins, and other molecular targets from sequenced viral and bacterial organisms, with connections precomputed to help speed up the discovery of molecular targets required for drug design, test development, and treatment. Researchers working on COVID-19 can now request access to the interface; previously, it was only available to government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations for bacterial study.
In a related development, starting today, clinicians and health care workers will gain access to COVID-19 content from IBM: Micromedex and EBSCO DynaMed, two holistic drug information and medical decision support platforms. (Micromedex is used by more than 4,500 hospitals and health systems worldwide, while DynaMed provides peer-reviewed clinical content including literature reviews in 28 specialties.) They’ll be able to take advantage of state-of-the-art drug and disease data and provide patients with educational handouts containing actionable information.
Lastly, IBM says it trained an AI search system on the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset, which contains thousands of scientific papers prepared by the White House and a coalition of research groups, in addition to licensed databases from DrugBank and GenBank. The freely available tool extracts embedded text, tables, and graphics to answer specific queries from vetted researchers.
Watson Assistant for Citizens’ debut comes after IBM made available a map on The Weather Channel to track the spread of COVID-19, mainly using data from governments as well as the World Health Organization. The company also built a dashboard on top of its Cognos Analytics suite that’s designed to help researchers, data scientists, and media analyze and filter coronavirus information down to the county level.
IBM this week debuted a chatbot that answers coronavirus questions by phone or text, and last week, the company announced it would coordinate an effort to make supercomputing capacity available to researchers in order to help identify treatments, viable mitigation strategies, and vaccines for COVID-19. IBM also launched a new Call for Code Global Challenge that will encourage developers to build open source technologies that address several areas, including crisis communication during an emergency, ways to improve remote learning, and how to inspire cooperative local communities.