LONDON (TIP): An artificially-intelligent ‘robot scientist’ has discovered that a compound shown to have anti-cancer properties can also be used in the fight against malaria, UK researchers say. The robot scientist, named Eve, could make drug discovery faster and much cheaper.
Robot scientists can automatically develop and test hypotheses to explain observations, run experiments using laboratory robotics, interpret the results to amend their hypotheses and then repeat the cycle.
In 2009, Adam, a robot scientist developed by researchers at the Universities of Aberystwyth and Cambridge, became the first machine to independently discover new scientific knowledge. The same team has now developed Eve, based at the University of Manchester, whose purpose is to speed up the drug discovery process and make it more economical.
“Eve exploits its artificial intelligence to learn from early successes in her screens and select compounds that have a high probability of being active against the chosen drug target,” said Professor Steve Oliver from the Cambridge Systems Biology Centre and the Department of Biochemistry at the Univer-sity of Cambridge. “A smart screening system, based on genetically engineered yeast, is used. This allows Eve to exclude compounds that are toxic to cells and select those that block the action of the parasite protein while leaving any equivalent human protein unscathed.”