TCS leverages Artificial Intelligence in the Race for a COVID-19 cure

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Tata Consultancy Services is leveraging its technology by using AI to accelerate the drug design process in the race for a cure for COVID-19.

Hundreds of thousands worldwide have died from the COVID-19 pandemic – and the end is not in sight. With hospitals and emergency rooms barely able to handle a spike in infections, it’s going to remain essential to ‘flatten the curve’ up until a vaccine and cure for COVID-19 have been developed.

At Tata Consultancy Services’ Innovation Lab in Hyderabad, India, a team of TCS scientists made a recent breakthrough in the search for a cure, by identifying 31 molecular compounds that might hold the key to curing this pandemic.

What’s remarkable about this breakthrough is speed. The team in Hyderabad leveraged Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help them run millions of scenarios which predicated and tracked the best possible approaches towards combating the infection – far faster than any human team could do so.

“The use of AI has considerably shortened the initial drug design process from several months to only a few days,” said Dr Gopalakrishnan Bulusu, one of the principal scientists involved in the project.

What’s so groundbreaking is how TCS managed to ‘teach’ the AI what to look for as it processed these scenarios – feeding in information about the current pandemic, and the SARS-Coronavirus-2 behind it. AI then enhances its own understanding through machine learning; essentially using the same methodology as a human research team, just at a massively accelerated pace.

TCS has partnered with India’s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to use their labs for the synthesized testing of these 31 molecular compounds. From there, partnerships with private and public bodies will eventually help any promising molecules through testing and development – and hopefully help us develop a cure.