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IBM Releases Novel AI-Powered Technologies to Help Health and Research Community Accelerate the Discovery of Medical Insights and Treatments for COVID-19 

IBM Research has been actively developing new Cloud and AI-powered technologies that can help researchers across a variety of scientific disciplines accelerate the process of discovery. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, we continue to ask how these technologies and our scientific knowledge can help in the global battle against Coronavirus

Today, making available multiple novel, free resources from across IBM to help healthcare researchers, doctors, and scientists around the world accelerate COVID-19 drug discovery: from gathering insights to applying the latest virus genomic information and identifying potential targets for treatments, to creating new drug molecule candidates.  

Though some of the resources are still in exploratory stages, IBM is making them available to qualifying researchers at no charge to aid the international scientific investigation of COVID-19.   

Today’s announcement follows recent leadership in launching the U.S. COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium, which is harnessing massive computing power in the effort to help confront the coronavirus.  

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Streamlining the Search for Information

Healthcare agencies and governments around the world have quickly amassed medical and other relevant data about the pandemic. And, there are already vast troves of medical research that could prove relevant to COVID-19. Yet, as with any large volume of disparate data sources, it is difficult to efficiently aggregate and analyze that data in ways that can yield scientific insights. 

To help researchers access structured and unstructured data quickly, IBM offered a Cloud-based AI research service that has ingested a corpus of thousands of scientific papers contained in the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19), prepared by the White House and a coalition of research groups, and licensed databases from the DrugBank,, and GenBank. This tool uses advanced AI and allows researchers to pose specific queries to the collections of papers and to extract critical COVID-19 knowledge quickly – including embedded text, tables, and graphics. Please note, access to this resource will be granted only to qualified researchers.

Aiding the Hunt for Treatments  

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The traditional drug discovery pipeline relies on a library of compounds that are screened, improved, and tested to determine safety and efficacy. In dealing with new pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, there is the potential to enhance the compound libraries with additional novel compounds. To help address this need, IBM Research has recently created a new, AI-generative framework that can rapidly create novel peptides, proteins, drug candidates, and materials. 

IBM has applied this AI technology against three COVID-19 targets to create 3,000 new small molecules as potential COVID-19 therapeutic candidates. IBM is releasing these molecules under an open license, and researchers can study them via a new interactive molecular explorer tool to understand their characteristics and relationship to COVID-19 and identify candidates that might have desirable properties to be further pursued in drug development.  

To streamline efforts to identify new treatments for COVID-19, IBM is also making available the IBM Functional Genomics Platform free for the duration of the pandemic, built to discover the molecular features in viral and bacterial genomes, this Cloud-based repository and research tool includes genes, proteins, and other molecular targets from sequenced viral and bacterial organisms in one place with connections pre-computed to help speed up the discovery of molecular targets required for drug design, test development, and treatment.  

Select IBM collaborators from government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations already use this platform for bacterial genomic study. And now, those working on COVID-19 can request the IBM Functional Genomics Platform interface to explore the genomic features of the virus. Access to the IBM Functional Genomics Platform will be prioritized for those involved in COVID-19 research.

Drug and Disease Information  

Clinicians and Healthcare professionals on the frontlines of care will also have free access to over 1,000 pieces of evidence-based curated COVID-19 and infectious disease content from IBM Micromedex and EBSCO DynaMed. Using these two rich decision support solutions, users will have access to state-of-the-art drug and disease information in a single and comprehensive search. Clinicians can also provide patients with consumer-friendly patient education handouts with relevant, actionable medical information.

IBM Micromedex is one of the largest online reference databases for medication information and is used by more than 4,500 hospitals and health systems worldwide. EBSCO DynaMed provides peer-reviewed clinical content, including systematic literature reviews in 28 specialties for comprehensive disease topics, health conditions, and abnormal findings, to highly focused topics on evaluation, differential diagnosis, and management. 

The scientific community is working hard to make important new discoveries relevant to the treatment of COVID-19, and we’re hopeful that releasing these novel tools will help accelerate this global effort. This work also outlines our long-term vision for the future of accelerated discovery, where multi-disciplinary scientists and clinicians work together to rapidly and effectively create next-generation therapeutics, aided by novel AI-powered technologies.   

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