Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are helping analyse massive amounts of data around the human genome and drug molecules, and these new-age technologies can play an important role in the fight against COVID-19, industry experts said on Saturday.
Speaking at KnowDis Machine Learning Day, Avantika Lal, Senior Scientist (Deep Learning and Genomics) at NVIDIA , said larger data sets on genome sequences (DNA arrangement) are being acquired, and this data is being studied for multiple parameters.
“As the cost of sequencing goes down, more and more people can get their genome sequence. Governments, research institutes, and public health organisations around the world are trying to sequence many thousands of people to build up an idea of genomes of populations of their countries,” she said.
Lal said massive data sets are collected that are very complicated and contain many different related kinds of information.
“…the size and richness of the data sets that we’re now getting makes it really essential to use machine and deep learning to analyse this data to answer complicated questions like, for example, how do we identify people who are more at risk of developing various diseases before they actually develop signs of those diseases,” she said.
These data sets can also help understand the mechanisms by which a certain disease arises in people, or how does one identify patients who might respond differently or be more sensitive to a particular kind of drug or treatment, she further said.
Saurabh Singal, of KnowDis Data Science, said AI models could quickly narrow down the list of the candidate drug molecules, which might possibly bind to the protein, modify its behaviour, and provide therapeutic benefit.
He explained that Deep Learning can help answer the question of which existing drugs can modify to the viral proteins active in the replication of the coronavirus. This can narrow down the time to develop the drug greatly, accelerating the efforts to combat the virus.