Artificial intelligence paves way for new medicines

November 24, 2023

A team of researchers from LMU, ETH Zurich, and Roche Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED) Basel has used artificial intelligence (AI) to develop an innovative method that predicts the optimal method for synthesizing drug molecules. Nippa is a doctoral student in Dr. David Konrad’s research group at the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy at LMU and at Roche. To achieve new or improved medical effects, functional groups are altered and added to new positions in the framework. However, this process is particularly challenging in chemistry, as the frameworks, which mainly consist of carbon and hydrogen atoms, are hardly reactive themselves. In this process, a chemical group containing the element boron is attached to a carbon atom of the framework.

A team of researchers from LMU, ETH Zurich, and Roche Pharma Research and Early Development (pRED) Basel has used artificial intelligence (AI) to develop an innovative method that predicts the optimal method for synthesizing drug molecules. “This method has the potential to significantly reduce the number of required lab experiments, thereby increasing both the efficiency and sustainability of chemical synthesis,” says David Nippa, lead author of the corresponding paper, which has been published in the journal Nature Chemistry. Nippa is a doctoral student in Dr. David Konrad’s research group at the Faculty of Chemistry and Pharmacy at LMU and at Roche.

Active pharmaceutical ingredients typically consist of a framework to which functional groups are attached. These groups enable a specific biological function. To achieve new or improved medical effects, functional groups are altered and added to new positions in the framework. However, this process is particularly challenging in chemistry, as the frameworks, which mainly consist of carbon and hydrogen atoms, are hardly reactive themselves. One method of activating the framework is the so-called borylation reaction. In this process, a chemical group containing the element boron is attached to a carbon atom of the framework. This boron group can then be replaced by a variety of medically effective groups. Although borylation has great potential, it is difficult to control in the lab.