Physicist Stephen Hawking sits on stage during an announcement of the Breakthrough Starshot initiative with investor Yuri Milner in New York April 12, 2016. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
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Artificial intelligence robots are turbocharging the race to find new drugs for the crippling nerve disorder ALS, or motor neurone disease.One candidate proposed by AI machines recently produced promising results in preventing the death of motor neurone cells and delaying disease onset in preclinical tests in Sheffield. Mead, who aims to present the work at a medical meeting in December, is now assessing plans for clinical trials. He and his team in northern England are not the only ones waking up to the ability of AI to elucidate the complexities of ALS.Mead believes ALS is ripe for AI and machine learning because of the rapid expansion in genetic information about the condition and the fact there are good test-tube and animal models to evaluate drug candidates.If the research goes on to deliver new medicines, it would mark a notable victory for AI in drug discovery, bolstering the prospects of a growing batch of startup companies focused on the technology.For Benevolent's Hunter, today's attempts to find new drugs for ALS and other difficult diseases marks an important test bed for the future of AI, which is already being deployed in other high-tech areas such as autonomous cars.
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