The past year has revealed how easy it is to catch even the most modern and developed societies unprepared. The coronavirus epidemic, which has spread around the world, is an unprecedented situation for a globalized world. And artificial intelligence proved to be a useful aid in mastering it. In addition to tracing infected people or combating misinformation, another of AI’s strengths has come to light – its use in vaccine development and clinical drug trials.

The use of AI in clinical trials has been worked on for many years. However, it is the threat of coronavirus that could accelerate its involvement in drug development. Thanks to it, scientists and doctors have an enormous amount of data at their disposal, which would be difficult for computers and the human mind to process. But artificial intelligence can deal with them and select the information that can help save lives.

Four phases of clinical trials

The task of clinical trials is to verify the safety and efficacy of newly developed drugs, usually in four phases. The first phase of testing verifies the safety and appropriate dosage of drugs, the second examines the effect of the drug on the disease, the third, longest, and most expensive phase determines the effectiveness of the drug in routine use, and in the final fourth phase doctors only monitor how the now marketable drug works in practice. And artificial intelligence can help doctors in each of these steps but especially in the third one, which is most difficult.

Digital assistant as the right hand in the development

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Clinical trials cannot be done without patients testing drugs. During the tests, these people are obliged to record various information about their health condition, which they then pass on to doctors. Improving the connection of doctors and the tested is one of the advantages of AI according to experts. “The apps that keep both parties connected are no longer new, but digital assistants with artificial intelligence greatly deepen, facilitate and speed up the transfer of the necessary data. Thanks to artificial intelligence, it is also easier for doctors to contact any new suitable testers,” says Marek Hadrbolec, PR Manager of Born Digital startups, which develops AI virtual assistants.

The help of artificial intelligence is most visible in the third part of testing, where it is necessary to maintain long-term contact with patients and collect large amounts of data. The involvement of digital assistants eliminates the need for a personal meeting for patients and the lengthy work of doctors with the analysis of the obtained data. Thanks to state-of-the-art technologies, AI itself draws the necessary conclusions and recommendations from them, which it passes on to researchers.

Thanks to the involvement of modern AI solutions, a smaller number of patients is needed in clinical testing. In addition, it is easier for patients and doctors to test new drugs, because artificial intelligence does a lot of complex work with health data for them.

A welcome help during the covid times

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The past months have shown the benefits of involving artificial intelligence in the fight against a pandemic. Digital assistants visibly help by tracing infected people, spreading awareness about prevention, and mapping symptoms. Another great piece of work is done by artificial intelligence where the public no longer sees it much – in the development of vaccines and drugs against coronavirus.

The whole world has watched the race of pharmaceutical giants in the development of an effective coronavirus vaccine. According to research, the involvement of artificial intelligence was then one of the factors that decided the winner. Artificial intelligence equipped with machine learning studied enormous amounts of data and looked for substances that could be used in vaccine development. “In data that would otherwise have had to be examined for months, artificial intelligence found essential information much faster, speeding up the development of vaccination itself,” commented Hadrbolec

One of the successes was the discovery of Benevolent AI’s artificial intelligence, which identified baricitinib as one of the anti-coronavirus agents. Following this finding, several other similar successes emerged. On top of that, digital assistants easily kept track of test subjects during the clinical trials, where large amounts of human capacity would otherwise be required, speeding up the collection and processing of valid data, that some researchers would not otherwise be able to identify.