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New anti-aging drugs discovered using AI technology

Artificial intelligence (AI) and its latest contribution to the development of anti-aging drugs has paved the way for breakthrough discoveries in modern medicine.

Researchers, using AI technology, have successfully identified three chemicals that specifically target malfunctioning cells, believed to be associated with certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.

A group of scientists from the University of Edinburgh developed an AI algorithm to screen a collection of over 4,300 chemical compounds.

The goal? To find potential ‘senolytic‘ drugs, most commonly referred to as anti-aging compounds. These are medications designed to induce the death of senescent cells and, in turn, improve overall health.

21 anti-aging drug candidates initially identified

The AI managed to identify 21 candidates that could promote anti-aging and cell senescence. This is a system where defective cells cease to multiply but persist in the body instead of dying off. This process is problematic as these cells continue to discharge chemicals that stimulate inflammation.

Drilling down from the 21 drug candidates, the team focused on three compounds: ginkgetin, oleandrin, and periplocin. Impressively, these substances demonstrated the ability to eliminate malfunctioning cells without causing harm to healthy cells when subjected to tests on human cells.

AI algorithms are advancing medicine at an exponential pace

AI’s role in medicine and anti-aging scientific research is progressively becoming indispensable. The technology can analyze enormous volumes of complex data far quicker than any human, offering immense help in diagnosing and treating diseases.

The University of Edinburgh team claimed their machine-learning technology dramatically reduced the cost of screening for effective senolytic drugs.

“This study demonstrates that AI can be incredibly effective in helping us identify new drug candidates, particularly at early stages of drug discovery and for diseases with complex biology or few known molecular targets,” said Dr Diego Oyarzún, a co-author of the study.

Focusing on cellular senescence and anti-aging

Cellular senescence is a widespread occurrence in numerous health conditions related to aging, including vision decline, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and certain cancers.

It also transpires in a chronic lung disease known as Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and a cardiovascular condition called atherosclerosis, which develops when sticky plaques accumulate in the arteries.

Senescent cells remain active within the body and emit damaging substances, leading to inflammation and potential harm to nearby healthy cells. This phenomenon is comparable to a moldy piece of melon contaminating an entire fruit salad.

Interestingly, because cellular senescence halts cell replication, it may suppress tumor growth. However, paradoxically, it can also foster cancer development by modifying the cellular environment.

“Besides their role in cancer and aging, the senescent program has been linked to adverse effects in a broad range of conditions, including osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, pulmonary fibrosis, SARS-CoV-2 infection, hepatic steatosis, and neurodegeneration,” the researchers noted.

New anti-aging compounds already outperforming current drugs

While there is only one existing therapy that has shown in clinical trials to reduce the volume of senescent cells in mice, the newly discovered compound, oleandrin, has proved more potent than currently best-performing senolytic drugs.

The three anti-aging compounds identified in the study, published in the journal Nature Communications, are found in traditional herbal medicines, showcasing the potential of natural substances in combating modern health issues.

“This work was borne out of an intensive collaboration between data scientists, chemists and biologists. Harnessing the strengths of this interdisciplinary mix, we were able to build robust models and save screening costs by using only published data for model training. I hope this work will open new opportunities to accelerate the application of this exciting technology,” said Dr Vanessa Smer-Barreto, a co-author of the study.

More about the use of AI in modern medicine

Artificial intelligence (AI) and its algorithms have dramatically transformed numerous sectors, with the healthcare industry being one of the most significant beneficiaries. The power of AI lies in its capacity to learn and make informed decisions, which often surpass human abilities in terms of speed and accuracy.

AI algorithms are computational procedures that allow software to learn patterns from vast datasets, make predictions, and even adapt over time. These algorithms are incredibly versatile and can be employed in a variety of healthcare applications, ranging from diagnostics to treatment plans, clinical research, and patient care.

Disease Diagnosis and Prediction

AI algorithms, especially those that leverage machine learning, can scrutinize medical images (like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs) and identify patterns that might not be visible to the human eye. This enables early detection and diagnosis of conditions such as cancers, brain tumors, and lung diseases. AI can also predict disease progression based on patient data, which can help doctors anticipate patient needs and adjust treatment plans accordingly.

Personalized Anti-aging Medicine

AI can assist in analyzing a patient’s genetic profile, lifestyle, and health records to predict how they will respond to certain treatments. This information can be used to create personalized treatment plans that are likely to be more effective and cause fewer side effects.

Drug Discovery and Development

As we saw in the article above, AI algorithms can analyze extensive databases of chemical compounds and predict their potential as new drugs. This is a powerful tool in drug discovery, helping to reduce the time and cost associated with traditional methods.

Robot-Assisted Surgery

AI algorithms can guide surgical robots during minimally invasive procedures, improving precision and reducing the risk of complications.

Administrative Tasks

AI can help automate routine administrative tasks such as scheduling appointments or managing patient records, thereby saving time and reducing human error.

Mental Health and Anti-aging

AI chatbots and virtual therapists can provide mental health support, deliver cognitive behavioral therapy, and assist in monitoring patients’ mental health.

Epidemic Outbreak Prediction

AI algorithms can analyze global health data to predict and monitor disease outbreaks, which is vital for global health preparedness and response.

Remote Monitoring and Telemedicine

AI algorithms can interpret data from wearable health devices, enabling remote patient monitoring and proactive healthcare. This is especially useful for managing chronic conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

Despite its potential, AI in healthcare also presents challenges, including data privacy concerns, the need for large, high-quality datasets to train algorithms, and ethical considerations about decision-making in healthcare. Nevertheless, AI continues to revolutionize healthcare, promising improved outcomes, efficiency, and personalized care.

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