Unlocking the Secrets of Immortality with Artificial Intelligence


How artificial intelligence may aid in the quest for immortality

Humanity has long been fascinated by the idea of immortality, with many ancient myths and legends touching on the subject. From Zeus beheading his father Chronos to achieve immortality to modern discussions in physics about manipulating time, the search for the elixir of life continues. In this quest, a team of scientists from the California company Integrated Biosciences collaborated with researchers from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States.

The team’s published study, titled “Discovering small-molecule senolytics with deep neural networks,” details their use of artificial intelligence (AI) to search for possible remedies to combat aging and related illnesses. By reducing the aging of cells, scientists hope to combat diseases such as fibrosis, tumors, inflammation, and osteoarthritis.

Lead author Felix Wong, an American physical chemist, mathematician, and biophysics expert, explains the challenge of finding a new drug, likening it to searching for a needle in a haystack. The haystack, in this case, consists of all the potential chemical compounds that have already been created or could be developed. With over 800,000 chemical solution options to consider, Wong and his team turned to AI to test their potential efficacy as anti-aging medications.

The team trained the AI models with the results of a sample of small molecules for senolytic activity and then used the models to discover structurally diverse compounds. The AI was able to evaluate over 800,000 options simultaneously, significantly increasing the efficiency of the search. Through this process, three potentially effective drugs were identified.

Biophysicist Andrew Rutenberg, a professor at the University of Dalhousie in Canada, praised the study’s methodology, stating that it uses deep machine learning techniques to explore diverse molecular structures for use as novel senolytics.

To educate the AI for the study, the scientists initially evaluated approximately 2,400 compounds in test tubes to identify potential candidates that could kill senescent cells. The data collected from these experiments was then used to train the AI models. After further laboratory experiments, three potential drugs were selected for testing, including one that was tested on an 80-year-old mouse. The scientists observed a decline in aging biomarkers, indicating that the compound could effectively reduce the aging of cells in living organisms.

The three compounds in the testing phases are currently known as BRD-K20733377, BRD-K56819078, and BRD-K44839765. While their names may sound like they were ripped from lab labels, Wong believes that one day these compounds could allow humans to live longer and healthier lives.

One common concern when developing new medications is the potential side effects. AI played a crucial role in evaluating the likely side effects of the tested compounds, ensuring that they would not cause harmful or toxic effects. Aline Martins, a Brazilian biologist and researcher at The Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, emphasizes the importance of using AI in biological experiments, stating that it allows for experiments on a scale that would be impossible to achieve without the use of an artificial environment.

The discovery of senolytic compounds marks a significant step forward in the search for interventions that can combat aging and age-related diseases. Aging is not just a natural process but can also lead to illnesses such as osteoarthritis, inflammation, and cancer. The challenge now is to find a balanced senolytic that can halt the aging process without causing harmful side effects.

According to Wong, the next step is to test these compounds on humans with the goal of increasing life expectancy by removing harmful subpopulations of aging cells. The research conducted by Wong and his team, aided by AI technology, brings us one step closer to the possibility of extending our lifespans and living healthier lives. As science continues to progress, the quest for immortality may one day become a reality.