LONDON: Poolbeg Pharma (AIM: POLB), a clinical stage infectious disease pharmaceutical company with a capital light clinical model, has signed an agreement with OneThree Biotech, Inc. a biology-driven artificial intelligence (‘AI’) company, to identify new drug targets and treatments for Respiratory Syncytial Virus (‘RSV’).
Under the terms of the transaction and as aligned with Poolbeg’s strategy, OneThree Biotech’s state-of-the-art AI analysis tools will identify drug assets which target immune-response pathways, have a higher probability of clinical success and have the potential to prevent and / or treat infectious diseases. The analysis will prioritise drugs with existing Phase I safety data, reducing spend and risk, which can feed into Poolbeg’s rapid, capital light clinical development strategy and its expanding pipeline of assets. The analysis is expected to commence in Q1 2022 with preliminary outputs from this work expected in H2 2022.
OneThree Biotech is a clinically validated AI company with a proven technology platform which integrates chemical, biological, and clinical data with cutting-edge computational tools to answer complex questions surrounding disease biology and drug discovery. The team at OneThree will work closely with Poolbeg’s scientific team to build a tailored AI analysis model which can leverage the unique insights of human challenge trial data to identify disease-relevant cell signalling pathways which could lead to novel drug targets. OneThree will receive milestone payments based on candidate development and royalties on the sale of products derived from this partnership.
The Company believe that this partnership with OneThree Biotech is the first time that AI analysis has been undertaken on RSV human challenge trial data and samples to identify new drug targets. The unique nature of human challenge trials to produce disease progression data with high precision is expected to revolutionise the insights generated from this analysis.
Poolbeg’s lead asset POLB 001, which is progressing towards its first human challenge trial in June 2022, was identified using such disease progression data. However, by utilising AI the Company aims to identify more targets, quicker and more cost efficiently than previously possible without this technology.
Poolbeg entered a partnership with Eurofins Genomics in October 2021 to complete RNA sequencing of Poolbeg’s RSV disease progression samples from human challenge trials. This work was a key step in Poolbeg advancing its AI analysis programme. This RSV discovery dataset has been specifically designed for incorporation into OneThree’s AI platform. The data sets within this project will leverage up to 140Gb of biological data per subject spread over baseline healthy measurements and the course of infection which is expected to unveil unprecedented insights.
RSV is a contagious virus that affects the respiratory tract of children and at-risk older adults; in severe cases, it can cause pneumonia and other life-threatening breathing difficulties. RSV is a significant public health threat affecting an estimated 50-million people annually, leading to 4 million global hospitalisations and up to 74,500 in-hospital deaths in children under the age of 5 years. An estimated 45% of these cases and deaths occur in new-born infants under the age of 6 months.
Jeremy Skillington, PhD, CEO of Poolbeg Pharma, said: “OneThree Biotech’s AI analysis tools will allow us to break new ground in data-driven drug discovery, by allowing us to evaluate and interrogate human challenge trial data like never before. This is a key part of our growth strategy, as we’ll be able to identify and develop drugs in a more time and cost effective manner, compared with the traditional biotech model. It will enable us to identify potential new treatments which have a higher probability of clinical success and which can feed into our rapidly expanding pipeline in-line with our capital light model.
This will be the first time that AI tools will be used to analyse RSV human challenge trial disease progression data, which illustrates the significance of this deal as well as Poolbeg’s innovative model. We look forward to updating the market on the outputs from this cutting-edge AI analysis in due course.”
Neel S. Madhukar, PhD, co-founder and CEO of OneThree Biotech, said: “At OneThree our mission has always been to unlock new therapeutic opportunities by understanding biology on a deeper level. The ability to combine our AI platform with the data and expertise from Poolbeg Pharma will enable just that, and create an opportunity to make meaningful progress in the treatment of infectious diseases.”
Brad Pryde, co-founder and COO of OneThree Biotech, concluded: “We have been impressed with Poolbeg Pharma’s clear dedication towards using technology and data to create efficiencies in drug discovery and development. We’re excited to demonstrate the strength of this partnership as future developments arise.”