Insilico Medicine, a Hong Kong-based biotech startup with more than $400 million in funding, created the drug with the inspirational name INS018_055, as a treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. This chronic disease causes scarring in the lungs.
The condition, which has increased in prevalence in recent decades, currently affects about 100,000 people in the US and can lead to death within two to five years if untreated, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Insilico Medicine CEO Alex Zhavoronkov said that it was the first fully generative AI drug to reach human clinical trials, and Phase II trials with patients.
"While there are other AI-designed drugs in trials, ours is the first drug with a novel AI-discovered target and a novel AI-generated design. When this company was launched, we were focused on algorithms — developing the technology that could discover and design new molecules," Zhavoronkov said.
"I never imagined in those early days that I would be taking my own AI drugs into clinical trials with patients. But we realised that to validate our AI platform, we needed to design a new drug for a new target and bring it into clinical trials to prove that our technology worked."
The company has two other drugs partially generated by AI in the clinical stage.