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A COVID-19 medicine wholly developed by generative AI has been licenced for human use for the first time and will shortly begin clinical trials in China, the Canadian-founded firm revealed Thursday.

Insilico Medical, a worldwide biotechnology business, discovered the medicine, known as ISM3312, in just a few months. According to initial testing, the medicine is already “as perfect as it can be,” according to one of the company’s Founders, and is thought to be the world’s first COVID-19 treatment generated by generative AI.

ISM3312 shown remarkable promise in preclinical experiments on mice and isolated cells, drastically lowering viral load in lung tissue and decreasing lung inflammation. It may be given orally or breathed, is effective even at low dosages, and may have little adverse effects.

ISM3312 inhibits a protein called 3CL protease, which is important in viral replication and a common target for anti-COVID medicines.

Unlike prior therapies, Zhavoronkov claims his medicine has a very broad range of activity, showing effectiveness not just against all existing COVID variants, but also against coronaviruses other than SARS-CoV-2.

The business started work on the medication in early 2020, back towards the onset of the epidemic. They began by inserting the 3D structure of 3CL protease into one of their in-house AI systems; the model was able to produce roughly 20 distinct possible therapeutic candidates from scratch in a couple of days.

Insilico isn’t the only business using AI to treat COVID-19, but they could be the most advanced. Exscientia AI Limited, for example, is now in the development phase of a new COVID medication utilising a different AI system, in a project entirely funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.