MUSC, HPE release free investigative software for COVID-19 therapies

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – MUSC and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) have publicly released PharML, “an innovative new drug discovery program.”

The program aims to accelerate the drug discovery pipeline and “find the right drug…that can limit this virus’s ability to survive, reproduce, and continue to wreak havoc.”

The technology analyzes “all of the characterized drug-protein interactions that can happen in the human body” and “uses neural network architecture to estimate what drugs might be effective for specific disease targets” with a 98.3% accuracy rate.

It has the potential to speed up the search for therapies, by providing researchers with a “shortlist” of possible effective drugs.

Jacob Balma, an artificial intelligence engineering researcher with HPE, explained:

“Because PharML can rank-order full proteins in a compound-focused study, or just as quickly solve the inverse problem of rank-ordering compounds relative to a specific protein in a target-focused study, we can effectively see where further study is warranted from the short lists generated by PharML,” Balma explained. “This quickly narrows the search space across databases containing millions of compounds and tens of thousands of proteins down to the few which matter most … and we can do that in minutes.”

By making the technology available to the public, the groups are “making it easier for others to join the race to find treatments to address the COVID-19 pandemic. They hope to “facilitate, most rapidly, drug development in an effort to fight COVID-19.”

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