Chemists use AI to synthesize anti-COVID drugs

Chemists at the University of Michigan are using AI to build synthetic recipes for known antiviral drugs. The work is part of a broader effort to make drugs like remdesivir and dexamethasone available worldwide amid supply shortages. The Michigan chemists have found recipes for eleven compounds that can make antivirals available cheaply in mass quantities.

The goal is not to find new drugs in the war against COVID-19. Instead, the scientists are trying to find ways to quickly ramp up production of drugs already on the market, as well as drugs that could be developed by other efforts, using ingredients that are cheaper and more available.

The Michigan team, led by Dr. Timothy Cernak, used AI software called Synthia to synthesize 12 existing antiviral therapies.