July 24, 2024
Antimalarial Drug

AI Algorithm Identifies Antimalarial Drug with Potential to Treat Osteoporosis

Researchers from Peking University School and Hospital for Stomatology and Peking University International Cancer Center in Beijing have successfully used an artificial intelligence algorithm to discover a compound that may reverse bone deterioration caused by osteoporosis. The compound, known as dihydroartemisinin (DHA), is derived from sweet wormwood, a plant commonly used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years.

The team used a deep-learning algorithm to predict the effectiveness of different small-molecule drugs in reversing certain gene expressions in osteoporosis, specifically focusing on bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). During osteoporosis, MSCs transform into fat-producing cells instead of osteoblasts, which are responsible for bone tissue formation. This leads to an increase in osteoclasts, resulting in bone loss. Restoring the normal function of MSCs is crucial for bone repair.

In a study conducted on mice, DHA-loaded nanoparticles were injected into mice with induced osteoporosis. After six weeks, the treatment significantly reduced bone loss and preserved bone structure. To improve the therapeutic efficiency of DHA, the researchers designed mesoporous silica nanoparticles (MSNs) conjugated with bone-targeting alendronate (ALN) to deliver DHA to the bone marrow MSCs. The study also found that DHA interacted with the MSCs to maintain their stemness, ensuring their development into osteoblasts.

Currently, mainstay drugs for osteoporosis mainly target hormone deficiency or bone resorption, but do not directly restore the stemness and vitality of MSCs. The use of AI to repurpose existing drugs for new treatments is becoming increasingly prevalent in medical research. This approach not only reduces costs but also expedites the drug discovery process, potentially leading to faster approval of life-saving medications.

Last year, a study revealed that biotech companies were adopting an “AI-first” approach to research, with over 150 small-molecule drugs in the discovery stage and 15 in clinical trials. AI-assisted drug discovery has already yielded promising treatments for disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

In another development, scientists from the University of Cambridge recently launched Polymatheic AI, a machine learning model designed to uncover overlooked discoveries across multiple disciplines. AI continues to revolutionize drug research and development, offering vast potential for the advancement of medical treatments.

*Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it