AI program finds multiple influenza drug targets


Poolbeg Pharma, a clinical-stage biopharma company focusing on infectious and other prevalent diseases, has announced a breakthrough in its world-first influenza Artificial Intelligence (AI) Programme working with the company CytoReason. 

Poolbeg’s disease progression data from influenza human challenge trials combined with CytoReason’s broad repositories of curated disease data were analyzed using CytoReason’s AI-led platform. The analysis has led to the discovery of multiple novel drug targets for the treatment of influenza.

Identification of drug targets from this data-set has previously been successful as p38 MAP Kinase, inhibited by POLB 001, was identified as a driver of severe influenza but this required manual analysis that took several years. However, through the utilization of CytoReason’s AI technology, Poolbeg has now identified multiple novel drug targets in 15 months. Also, CytoReason’s analysis independently confirmed the significance of the p38 MAP kinase pathway in influenza, providing further validation for Poolbeg’s POLB 001 program.

Second AI program

The company is exploring the most effective way to further develop the novel drug targets to generate value. This marks Poolbeg’s second successful AI program, following the identification of potential new drug candidates for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) announced in December 2022.

Jeremy Skillington, chief executive officer of Poolbeg Pharma, said: “Our collaboration with CytoReason has put Poolbeg at the forefront of AI drug discovery. CytoReason’s deep interrogation of the uniquely rich data derived from human challenge trials has deepened our knowledge of influenza, resulting in the identification of multiple novel influenza drug targets. There is a significant unmet need for new and better treatments for vulnerable patients with influenza and this is a major milestone in the delivery of new therapies that can improve patient outcomes and global health.”

David Harel, chief executive officer of CytoReason, said: “Once again, we’re pleased to see that leveraging CytoReason’s computational disease models to extract insights from Poolbeg’s unique human challenge data can optimize the target discovery process. More importantly, these impressive results would not be possible without the commitment, transparency, and reciprocity of both teams.”

In December, Poolbeg Pharma announced it had successfully identified potential new drug candidates from its respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) AI program with OneThree Biotech, Inc.

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