Crux of the Matter
Cooking Chemicals In The Cloud With IBM
The algorithms used in RoboRXN are autonomously designed (AI) and executed (automation) with the remotely accessible lab (Cloud) with bare minimum human intervention.
How Does It Work?
- Scientists log on to the online platform via a web browser. Then they draw the skeletal structure of the molecular compounds they want to create on a black canvas.
- The platform uses machine learning (ML) to predict the ingredients required and the order in which they should be mixed.
- Then the outcome of the chemical reaction required to form that compound, is predicted using neural ML translation architecture.
- Then instructions are sent to a robot in a remote lab to execute and the report is sent back to the scientists with the results.
What’s The Translation Architecture Used Here?
Similar to translating French to English, this mechanism translates the language of chemistry by converting reactants (substance that undergoes change) and reagents (substance used for chemical analysis) to products.
IBM uses the SMILE (simplified molecular-input line-entry) representation, which describes and stores the structure of a compound using short ASCII strings, which is computer understandable.
How Does It Help In The Long Run?
Traditionally, new drugs and materials require an average span of 10 years and an exorbitant budget to be highlighted in the market. During this time, there is a continuous repetition of experiments to synthesize new compounds. Say, kneading a pizza dough for the first time requires many hits and trials.
With automated, predictive platforms like RoboRXN, the process would speed up & since lesser physical resources will be consumed, the cost of drug development will reduce too. Like the step by step recipe of Pizza!
Research That Is Immune To Pandemics
With the advent of such cloud-based online platforms, medical experts can focus on their ideas and react faster to health crises like the ongoing Covidid-19 pandemic, with just a steady internet connection. Currently social distancing has slowed down research in labs that use offline servers for storage of their integral data and therefore work resources can only be accessed in person.
What If Your New Labmate Is A Robot?
Using a similar concept, a startup called Kebotix has designed a self-driving lab wherein a robotic system predicts a desired compound’s recipe and then removes unrelated designs from the input database.
Then it feeds the results back in it’s learning pipeline, to make better decisions for the next round, till the correct ingredients are found for the compound and a sample is created, without any human supervision.
Or You Could Use Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELNs)?
ELN is a computer program designed to replace paper laboratory notebooks. They are used to document the entire research, experiments, and procedures performed in a lab and can be encrypted and are thus secure from cyber attacks. Such digital copies are easier to search upon, simplify the data copying process, and support multiple user collaborations while ensuring a cloud backup happens every time.
University-Industry Cloud Based Collaborations
Earlier this year, Oxford University announced a collab with Amazon Web Services, after the latter provided £7 million for their cloud-based R& D in the Data Science, AI, and Robotics division.
Such partnerships will allow other companies and colleges to follow suit and work together towards a common goal, in order to utilize the best of their respective resources while thinking “cloud-first”.
- The Human Genome Project (HGP) was an international scientific research project with the goal of determining the base pairs that make up human DNA. It remains the world’s largest collaborative biological project. Planning started after the idea was picked up in 1984 by the US government, the project formally launched in 1990, and was declared complete on April 14, 2003.
- Boston Dynamics is an engineering and robotics design company founded in 1992 as a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Boston Dynamics is best known for the development of a series of dynamic highly-mobile robots, including BigDog, Spot, Atlas, and Handle. Spot, Boston Dynamics’ robot dog is the first commercially available robot from them.
- Salesforce.com, inc. is a cloud-based software company headquartered in San Francisco, California. It provides customer relationship management (CRM) service. The company was founded in 1999 by former Oracle executive Marc Benioff and has partnered with Facebook and Apple on various projects.