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Artificial intelligence gears up to fight a future coronavirus

first_imgDisease outbreaks like the coronavirus often unfold too quickly for scientists to find a cure. But in the future, artificial intelligence could help researchers do a better job.While it’s probably too late for the fledgling technology to play a major role in the current epidemic, there’s hope for the next outbreaks. AI is good at combing through mounds of data to find connections that make it easier to determine what kinds of treatments could work or which experiments to pursue next.The question is what Big Data will come up with when it only gets meager scraps of information on a newly emerged illness like Covid-19, which first emerged late last year in China and has sickened more than 75,000 people in about two months.The fact that researchers managed to produce the gene sequencing of the new virus within weeks of the first reported cases is promising, since it shows there’s far more immediate data available now when outbreaks happen.Andrew Hopkins, chief executive officer of Oxford, England-based startup Exscientia Ltd. is among those working to help train artificial intelligence for drug discovery. He figures new treatments could go from conception to clinical testing in as little as 18 to 24 months within the next decade, thanks to AI.Exscientia designed a new compound for treating obsessive-compulsive disorder that’s ready to be tested in the lab after less than a year in the initial research phase. That’s about five times faster than average, according to the company.Cambridge-based Healx has a similar approach, but it uses machine learning to find new uses for existing drugs. Both companies feed their algorithms with information — gleaned from sources such as journals, biomedical databases and clinical trials — to help suggest new treatments for diseases.Human SupervisionThe two companies each use a team of human researchers to work alongside the AI to help guide the process. In Exscientia’s approach, dubbed the Centaur Chemist, drug designers help teach the algorithms strategies for searching for compounds. Healx puts the AI’s predictions to researchers who analyze the results and decide what to pursue.Neil Thompson, Healx’s chief science officer, said the technique could be deployed against an outbreak like the coronavirus as long as it had enough data on the new disease. Healx isn’t working on tackling the coronavirus or tweaking its technology for outbreaks, but it wouldn’t be a stretch.“We’re quite close,” Thompson said in an interview. “We wouldn’t need to change much about the AI algorithms we use. We look at matching drug properties to disease features.”One catch for all these technologies is clinical testing. Even drugs already safe for use to cure one ailment should be tested again before they’re prescribed for another. The process of showing they are safe and effective on a large number of people can take years before going to regulators for review.To be effective, AI-based drug developers would have to plan ahead of time, picking out a virus genome likely to cause problems in the future and targeting it when there are few incentives to do so.Read more about how drugmakers are hunting for ways to halt the coronavirus.Another obstacle is finding qualified staff.“It’s hard to find people who can operate at the intersection of AI and biology, and it’s difficult for big companies to make quick decisions on technology like this,” said Irina Haivas, a partner at venture capital firm Atomico and former surgeon who sits on the board of Healx. “It’s not enough to be an AI engineer, you have to understand and get into the applications of biology.”Topics :last_img read more

2015 season is second in five-year pact with Mach-1 as title sponsor for IMCA Sport Compacts

first_imgABBOTT, Texas (Feb. 4) – The 2015 race season is the second in a five-year agreement making Mach-1 of Abbott, Texas, title sponsor of IMCA’s Sport Compact division.Mach-1 will provide a portion of the $1,000 point fund to be paid to top 10 drivers in final national standings for the 4-cylinder class in 2015. The Gary Mach-owned company began giving Sport Compact contingencies in 2009, first put its name on the division in 2011 and inked the new five-year contract in 2014. Sport Compact champions were crowned at 41 tracks in 10 states in last year. One hundred and nineteen different drivers have now won one or more of the 200 track or special series titles awarded since IMCA began sanctioning the division in 2006. More information about Mach-1 support and consulting services is available by calling 254 826-5848.All drivers in the division are required to display two Mach-1 decals on their race car to be eligible. “The Mach-1 program is crucial for our Sport Compact members because it puts cash in their pocket not only at our national banquet, but during the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s as well,” pointed out IMCA Marketing Director Kevin Yoder. “They’ve been the only title sponsor this division has ever known and we are pleased to be able to market that well into the foreseeable future.”last_img read more

20 Things All Cheese Lovers Will Understand

first_imgWebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite WebsiteWebsiteWebsite And one’s that are sadBecause cheese is life and life is to be enjoyed. When it comes to the love of cheese, trying to argue against it is a slippery slope down a never ending torture chamber, it’s just not advisable. It’s Cheese Lovers Day and there’s a few things that only cheese lovers will understand.The love for cheese goes deeper than the love of most food groupsWhen you were younger you couldn’t get enough of cheese so you have a lot of time to make up forSo it irritates you when you have to ask for extra cheese at restaurants,Or justify why you are carrying so many different cheeses with you in your grocery bagsOr eating so much cheesecenter_img A meal that does not have cheese, is an inferior mealWhich is why a cheese platter is your chosen meal of championsEven though you know sometimes it’s not the best ideaBut you don’t like to reminded of thisBecause it ruins your next cheese surprise When it comes to South African made cheese, everything is fair gameAnd your idea of a cheesy pick up line does not involve a humanUnless this human shares your passion for cheeseThen it’s a match made in cheese heavenTopped with the best cheese dessert in the worldSo while many might not understand this obsessionIt doesn’t matter because they do not know what they’re missingIn your books, there are only two kinds of people; one’s that live life to its full cheesy potentiallast_img read more