Jun Aruga's Blog

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Scaling the Scientific Method

2 challenges related to scaling scientific method

I did read the book Lifespan [1], that is a new detailed inclusive report and history of aging biology.

I see 2 challenges in the process of the science.

First, verifying a hypothesis needs a long time. According to the book - 2nd chapter, the author David Sinclair [2] and his professor Guarente discovered had a hypothesis that is about a root cause of aging: That is like Young => Injured genome => Disturbed Epigenetics => The cell's identify is lost => The cell is old => Disease => Death. Then they discovered one thing to prove their hypothesis by using yeast, and published it in the popular science magazine "Cell" in December 1997. Then they tried to verify the hypothesis by using Mammal's cell for 10 years.

Second, chemical molecular recommendation. The process to find a chemical molecule that has an ideal structure that is close to a molecular that is not the best in the purpose, can be improved by AI computing. I can not remember where the part is in the book. But in the book, there was a mentioned biologist who remembered a lot of chemical molecules with the structure and characteristics. And the biologist found the best effective chemical closer with the other molecule by their skills. I think this process can be improved by AI technology.

[28th January updated] I found where the second part was. It is in 5th chapter - A discovery of a chemical substance to activate the sirtuin enzyme. According to the book, the number of the known chemical substances is more than 100 million. The biologist Konrad T.Howitz who was a responsible for molecular biology at Biomol Research Laboratories Inc asked Robert Zipkin who was a founder of Biomol what a chemical substance that is similar to fisetin [3] and butein [4] but effective to do something was. Roert Zipkin answered that it was resveratrol [5]. When you see [3], [4] and [5], you see those have similar chemical structure. I thought this process could be effective by AI.

IBM Research working on the challenges

I see that IBM Research is doing some activities to improve the challenges. For example, according to [6][7][8], this might accelerate the process of "wet work" converting it to "dry work" by automating the process by computing.

The "Science & Technology Outlook 2021" [9] report was published recently at IBM Research website [10]. The "Section Two: Scaling the Scientific Method" of the report is related to the challenges.

There are also interesting articles from IBM Research in World Economic Forum [11].