Poolbeg Pharma signs first of its kind AI deal with CytoReason

07:58, 24th March 2022

Poolbeg Pharma (POLB FOLLOW) has signed a new deal with CytoReason to provide AI analysis of Poolbeg’s influenza disease progression data derived from human challenge study samples.

This will be the first time that AI analysis has been undertaken on influenza human challenge disease progression data and samples, the infectious disease pharma group told investors.

Poolbeg said this deal comes at a time when the threat of influenza is significant with cases at their highest globally since the pandemic began; pre-pandemic, one in eight people were affected, resulting in five to ten million hospitalisations and 500,000 deaths each year.

CytoReason is described as a leading artificial intelligence (AI) firm developing computational disease models for efficient drug discovery and development. Fve of the world’s top ten pharma companies use its technology including Pfizer, Sanofi, Merck KGaA and Roche.

Having built several world-class validated artificial intelligence models which can extrapolate immune cell behaviour based on bulk transcriptomics, Poolbeg believes CytoReason is an ideal partner that will enable it to maximise the insights of the company’s influenza data.

The partnership is expected to harness the insights of Poolbeg’s repository of influenza human challenge trial data and mark another significant milestone in its strategy to leverage its proprietary databank to identify new pharmaceutical assets using artificial intelligence.

Poolbeg said its ability to execute a deal of this nature with CytoReason is a testament to the quality of its proprietary databank which will significantly improve the outputs of the deal.

The partnership will bring Poolbeg’s repository of clinical samples and associated data from influenza human challenge trials together with CytoReason’s validated AI technology.

This will enable a deep understanding of the mechanism of influenza infection and recovery and, as a result, help identify novel drug targets for the disease, the company explained.

Poolbeg said its datasets for influenza are already tailored for incorporation into CytoReason’s platform algorithms. Both companies believe these novel disease-relevant insights have the potential to transform how influenza is currently treated. The project is due to commence immediately with a full work programme already agreed, and first results expected in 1H23.

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CytoReason’s machine learning algorithm works by combing through enormous repositories of clinical data to build models of human disease, which can then be used by biotech and pharmaceutical partners to identify novel targets, prioritise mono/combination therapies, find biomarkers, and understand which patients will benefit most from those new treatments.

CytoReason will build a tailored AI model using its clinical data in conjunction with Poolbeg’s human challenge data to maximise the insights generated. As a result, the firm will be able to prioritise new drug targets quickly and cost effectively in line with Poolbeg’s business model.

Based on the target identification insights generated from the analysis, Poolbeg plans to source drugs with existing Phase I safety data that can immediately continue clinical development to rapidly generate early human proof of concept data for influenza, with the aim of monetising the asset through partnerships and licensing deals with pharma and biotech.

CytoReason will also be analysing blood transcriptomics, proteomics, DNA sequences and viral loads and disease signs and symptoms from the human challenge studies.

Poolbeg’s asset, POLB 001, which is advancing towards its first human challenge trial in June 2022, was identified using data available from human challenge trials. Poolbeg intends to utilise AI to identify more targets more quickly and more cost effectively than previously.

Jeremy Skillington, PhD, CEO of Poolbeg Pharma, commented: “This exciting deal is all about creating opportunities. Opportunities to unlock the potential of our unique bank of human challenge data. Opportunities to develop drugs for infectious disease more quickly and cost effectively. And opportunities to tackle the growing global threat of influenza.”

He added: “This is the first time AI analysis will be undertaken on influenza human challenge trial data and we look forward to the results early next year. We are delighted to be working with such an industry leading partner as CytoReason and using cutting-edge AI technology as we continue to develop and progress our innovative infectious disease drug pipeline.”

Also commenting, David Harel, CytoReason’s CEO, said: “We are excited about the potential of Poolbeg’s data and are delighted to be the first AI company to analyse Influenza human challenge data.” Our top-tier scientists, along with our platform of computational disease models, will enable Poolbeg to significantly shorten the drug discovery time for Influenza treatments, dramatically reduce the costs involved, and ultimately help more patients.

Today’s AI deal follows the partnership with OneThree Biotech, Inc. announced in February 2021 to identify new drug targets and treatments for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (‘RSV’).

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