By Weishi L. Meng
AI has become unavoidable, essential. It fertilizes/empowers almost every scientific discipline. Drug discovery and development, always pivoting on big data, is surely no exception. Versatile companies and big pharmas are keenly aware of this reality, and are now incorporating AI to their endeavors at breakneck pace. A paragon of this versatility is AF Innovation, a prime example of a new breed of pharmaceutical consultancies whose success resides in the ability to translate fundamental advances in biophysics into efficacious biomedical design. This formula bespeaks of versatility, precisely the quality needed to swiftly and effectively incorporate AI into drug discovery and development. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the recent contribution by Ariel Fernandez, the CSO at AF Innovation, at the Journal of Chemical Information and Modeling (American Chemical Society). The work carries the title Artificial Intelligence Steering Molecular Therapy in the Absence of Information on Target Structure and Regulation [DOI: https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jcim.9b00651].
So promising is the incorporation of AI as steer of discovery efforts in molecular targeted therapy that a dedicated branch of AF Innovation, the Daruma Institute, has now opened its doors and is fully devoted to this area. Officially named the Daruma Institute for AI in Pharmaceutical Research, its main focus is the development of artificial intelligence platforms for molecular therapeutics, with emphasis on therapeutic steering of cancer evolution. It is currently headed by Ariel Fernández and has prime locations in the ancient sierras of the Buenos Aires Province in Argentina and in the USA, in Winston-Salem, NC.
Recent publications related to the mission of the Daruma Institute are:
Ariel Fernández and L. Ridgway Scott: “Advanced modeling reconciles counterintuitive decisions in lead optimization”. Trends in Biotechnology, CELL Press 35, 490-497 (2017).
Ariel Fernández: “Making targeted therapy compatible with checkpoint immunotherapy”. Trends in Biotechnology, CELL Press 35, 582-585 (2017). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tibtech.2017.02.008
Ariel Fernández: “Engineering Tumor Hypersusceptibility to Checkpoint Immunotherapy”. Trends in Cancer, CELL Press 3, 675-677 (2017).
Ariel Fernández: “Deep Learning to Therapeutically Target Unreported Complexes”. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences, CELL Press 40, 551-554 (2019).
Ariel Fernández (born Ariel Fernández Stigliano) is an Argentinian-American physical chemist and mathematician. He obtained a Ph. D. degree in Chemical Physics from Yale University and held the Karl F. Hasselmann Endowed Chair Professorship in Bioengineering at Rice University. His research was funded by NIH, NIGMS. He is currently involved in research and entrepreneurial activities at various firms. Ariel Fernández authored four books on translational medicine and biophysics, and published over 430 papers in professional journals (as per ORCID record). He also holds two patents in the field of biotechnology.