By Melissa Rudy Fox News – Published September 5, 2023 2:00am EDT

Artificial intelligence is increasingly moving into the health care arena and helping to streamline medical processes — including the creation of new drugs.

Insilico Medicine, an AI-driven biotech company based in Hong Kong and in New York City, recently announced that its new AI-designed drug for COVID-19 has entered Phase I clinical trials.

This oral drug is a treatment, not a vaccine. If approved, it would become the first-ever alternative to Paxlovid, noted Alex Zhavoronkov, PhD, founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine.

“Generative AI is transforming every area of human development,” said Zhavoronkov in a press release announcing the new discovery. 

“We’re extremely happy to announce that our second small molecule therapeutic — generated using generative AI — is now entering human clinical trials.” 

Paxlovid, which is currently the only medication available to treat COVID symptoms, has been linked to some undesirable side effects, Insilico noted.

One of these is “Paxlovid rebound,” which is when patients recover from COVID and test negative — but then test positive again a short time later.

Another documented side effect, “Paxlovid mouth,” occurs when the drug leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth for those who take it.

An additional limitation of Paxlovid is that as COVID mutates, drug-resistant strains can emerge.

Insilico’s new pill has been shown to be effective against variants that are resistant to Paxlovid, and is also more stable and works for a longer period of time, according to Zhavoronkov.

In preclinical studies, ISM3312 “significantly reduced” viral load in lung tissue and decreased lung inflammation, the company stated in the release. 

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