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June 7, 2022 | Originally published by Defense Threat Reduction Agency on May 13, 2022

New artificial intelligence (AI) and deep-learning-assisted projects aim to accelerate the multiple stages of the drug research and development (R&D) process by using drug repurposing to enable treatments to be approved faster. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s (DTRA’s) Chemical and Biological Technologies Department, in its role as the Joint Science and Technology Office (JSTO) for the Chemical and Biological Defense Program, is investing in research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop new AI and deep-learning technologies capable of automating scientific data analysis and interpretations in the early stages of drug discovery.

Recently, the U.S. government supported accelerated COVID-19 therapeutic drug trials, and investigators began a rigorous selection process of the vast number of candidate drugs with potential benefits. Scientists have made significant progress in treating presymptomatic and early-stage COVID-19 cases using repurposed drugs, such as molnupiravir, that DTRA-JSTO had invested in for development as a Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus treatment; however, more advanced tools are needed to prioritize drugs and predict repurposed drug combinations that can be beneficial across all disease stages.

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