Variational AI Partners with the University of British Columbia and adMare BioInnovations to Develop COVID-19 Therapeutic

AI-Generated Antiviral is Intended to Treat Variants of Concern Such as Omicron and Delta

Vancouver, BC December 15, 2021 Variational AI, developer of state-of-the-art generative AI technology to redefine the economics of drug development by accelerating the discovery of novel and optimized small molecule therapeutics, today announced the company has generated and ordered compounds for validation in partnership with the University of British Columbia (UBC) and adMare BioInnovations to develop a novel SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease (3CLpro) inhibitor. The therapeutic is intended to be efficacious against the wild type and current variants of concern, including Delta and potentially Omicron, in the form of an antiviral pill. The COVID-19 drug discovery program is funded by Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, which is supported by the Canadian Ministry of Innovation, Science and Industry.

“The Variational AI team is honored to partner with the University of British Columbia and adMare BioInnovations to work to address this most urgent medical need,” said Handol Kim, co-founder and CEO, Variational AI. “As society continues to grapple with COVID-19 variants, it is more important than ever to leverage the power of machine learning to accelerate our drug discovery efforts.”

Variational AI has trained its generative AI algorithm on a large amount of COVID-19 data to generate new molecules and has ordered a number of compounds to be synthesized that are predicted to be potent and safe with fewer side effects. Variational AI uses a generative model known as Variational Autoencoder (VAE), which is able to optimize molecular properties more quickly and uses data far more efficiently. The company intends to license the antiviral compound to a partner to accelerate progress and get the therapeutics into clinics sooner.

“We are proud to support Variational AI’s innovative approach to discovering an effective therapeutic for COVID-19,” said Sue Paish, CEO of the Digital Technology Supercluster. “While vaccines offer the first and best line of defense against COVID-19, the global community needs as many therapeutic options as possible to prevent fatalities and improve patient outcomes.”

Generally, pills can be manufactured, distributed and stored more easily and cost-effectively than vaccines and are particularly well-suited to treat people in developing countries. In addition to COVID-19 and its variants, the resulting therapeutic may also be efficacious against other coronaviruses.

“Our lab is committed to remaining at the forefront of applying computational methods to discover COVID-19 therapeutics, and our collaboration with Variational AI to leverage the company’s powerful AI adds a promising pipeline of novel and potent SARS-CoV-2 Main Protease inhibitors to the arsenal of antiviral options,” said, Artem Cherkasov, Ph.D., professor of medicine, University of British Columbia.

About Variational AI

Variational AI uses state-of-the-art machine learning in a data-efficient method to rapidly generate novel and diverse compounds that are optimized for multiple properties to avoid the most common causes of drug attrition and increase clinical probability of success. Variational AI works with leading biopharmaceutical partners and is developing its own internal pipeline. To learn more, visit

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