A laboratory automation system that harnesses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques in order to glean and understand scientific data constant experimentation is called a Robot Scientist.

Eve is such a Robot Scientist and if certain U.K. researchers have it right, then Eve might have stumbled upon a possible fighting chance against malaria.

A paper published in the Royal Society journal Interface explains that essentially through cycles of experimentation, involving learning, analysis and testing of compounds, Eve, “integrates and automates library-screening, hit-confirmation, and lead generation”, testing all possible compounds on target diseases to see which one yields favourable results.

It mass-screens a batch and then retests the hits for confirmation. Herein, the learning and analysis of the hit can help derive results.

“Eve has repositioned several drugs against specific targets in parasites that cause tropical diseases. One validated discovery is that the anti-cancer compound TNP-470 is a potent inhibitor of dihydrofolate reductase from the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium vivax.”

The paper enunciates that conventional drug processing and testing methods may take years. It emphasizes the need for making drug discovery cheaper and faster. Through Eve, and other such Robot Scientists, which can conduct about 10,000 tests a day, the development of treatments for diseases currently neglected for economic reasons, such as tropical and orphan diseases, becomes cheaper and quicker.

(Image credit: “100x- blood cell culture”, via Flickr)

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