AI program yields multiple novel RSV drug targets


Poolbeg Pharma says it has made a breakthrough in its Artificial Intelligence (AI) program with partner OneThree Biotech, Inc. through the discovery of novel drug targets for the treatment of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Following the completion of the build and optimization of a tailored AI model in June 2022, the OneThree team, using its clinically validated AI platform, have identified novel drug targets using Poolbeg Pharma’s RSV human challenge trial data. 

The identification of these novel drug targets allows the final stage of the program to start, which will involve the identification of small molecule inhibitors to effectively treat RSV infections. The team said this includes a range of targets for which there are known drugs with existing phase I safety and tolerability data.

‘Smooth transition’

Prioritization of compounds with existing phase I data aligns with Poolbeg Pharma’s capital light model as these compounds will have extensive nonclinical and clinical data allowing smooth transition to early human efficacy trials.

The final stage of the research plan will utilize OneThree’s ATLANTIS AI platform to identify drugs most likely to be efficacious against the identified disease targets with clean safety profiles in RSV patients. Selection of drugs is traditionally a long and extensive process, however, by using an existing AI model this process can be completed in weeks. Results of this stage are expected before year end 2022.

Traditional drug design is focused on identifying a molecule that can bind with a specific target within a cell. Poolbeg’s approach, utilizing OneThree Biotech’s advanced AI models, allows for the complex disease signature underlying each drug target to be considered during drug selection. This allows the complex outputs of this stage, which represent novel biological insights, to be advanced to the final stage which will match drugs to prioritized targets.

Pinpointing drug molecules

By working from disease signatures, OneThree Biotech can utilize the full strength of its AI technology to pinpoint the drug molecules that can precisely and effectively reverse disease signatures and produce meaningful clinical benefits.

Jeremy Skillington, CEO of Poolbeg Pharma, said: “This is the first time that AI has been used to identify disease targets in RSV and I am delighted to have reached this significant milestone in the program in such a short period of time. Having identified these novel disease targets, we can now commence the final stage of the programme to identify effective drug candidates to treat RSV.

“In keeping with our capital-light model, this AI enabled in silico R&D approach has significantly accelerated the discovery process by having the right partners and the right expertise to unleash the potential of our unique human challenge trial data. We greatly look forward to seeing the outputs of this programme later this year.”

Neel S. Madhukar, CEO of OneThree Biotech said: “This analysis is pioneering in RSV research, and we are pleased to have identified disease targets from which effective drug candidates can be explored. We are fortunate to have access to Poolbeg’s unique human challenge trial data because it was collected in a controlled and powered quarantine which increases the overall strength and predictive power you can get from it.

“Additionally, thanks to the combination of Poolbeg’s data and our ATLANTIS platform, we were able to reach this point in our project in only eight months – significantly faster than a traditional drug discovery project – and we’re excited to make meaningful progress in the treatment of infectious diseases, such as RSV.”

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