Atomwise, Inc., a biotech company using artificial intelligence (AI) for
drug discovery, and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative
(DNDi), a not-for-profit research and development organization
working to deliver new treatments for neglected diseases, today
announced that promising drug-like compounds have been discovered in a
program to develop first-in-class treatments for Chagas disease. The
research collaboration is part of Atomwise’s Artificial Intelligence
Molecular Screen (AIMS) Awards program.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 6-7
million people in the world have Chagas disease. Approximately 30% of
those with Chagas disease develop life-threatening cardiac, digestive,
or neurological disorders.
DNDi scientists selected three verified but challenging
therapeutic protein targets that would inhibit the action of the
parasite that causes Chagas disease. For each disease protein, Atomwise
screened millions of compounds using its AI-powered screening technology
to predict those that bind and potentially inhibit protein function.
This research has delivered drug-like compounds that will now go on to
further optimization and then potential drug development.
Through the AIMS program, which supports hundreds of researchers at
non-profit institutions and universities worldwide, Atomwise provided
compounds at no cost to be tested by DNDi researchers.
“Our partnership with Atomwise has allowed us access to state-of-the-art
technology that is more efficient and cost-effective than standard
methods,” said Benjamin Perry, Ph.D., Senior Discovery Manager and
Research Scientist at DNDi. “Ultimately, the next step for this
partnership will be to further develop the compounds in active discovery
projects and help fill the pipeline of potential treatments for patients
with Chagas disease. This win-win collaboration is showing the potential
of new technology for neglected disease drug discovery.”
Current treatments for Chagas disease are suboptimal, with long
treatment periods and uncertain efficacy for those in the advanced stage
of the disease. Together, DNDi and Atomwise are driving drug
discovery research in new directions to address a public health
challenge that affects many corners of the world.
“DNDi’s early success in Chagas disease is exemplary of the goal
we sought to accomplish when we established the AIMS program to
accelerate life-saving drug discovery,” said Dr. Abraham Heifets, CEO at
Atomwise. “Our scientists are working creatively with DNDi
researchers to apply our technology to targets that some might consider
undruggable or too early for rational drug design due to insufficient
data. While these targets present the greatest challenge, they also
provide the greatest opportunity for transformative treatments for
Chagas disease. The research conducted through this collaboration could
offer a path to novel medicines.”
About Chagas Disease
Chagas disease is a neglected tropical
disease (NTD) estimated to affect approximately 6 million people
worldwide, with 30,000 new cases and 14,000 deaths per year. It is
caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi) and
transmitted by insects known as ‘kissing bugs.’ It can also be
transmitted from an infected mother to a child, or through blood
transfusion or food contaminated with the vector.
Since it was first discovered in 1909, Chagas has primarily affected
poor, vulnerable populations with limited access to healthcare. As the
disease typically remains asymptomatic for years after infection, most
people with the disease are unaware of their condition. For 30-40% of
people infected, the disease progresses to a late chronic stage. Of
these, most will suffer cardiac damage, often leading to sudden death or
progressive heart failure. The disease can also cause enlargement of the
gastrointestinal tract and organs and gastrointestinal motor disorders.
A not-for-profit research and development
organization, DNDi works to deliver new treatments for neglected
patients, in particular those suffering with Chagas disease, sleeping
sickness (human African trypanosomiasis), leishmaniasis, filarial
infections, mycetoma, pediatric HIV, and hepatitis C. Since its
inception in 2003, DNDi has delivered eight new treatments. DNDi’s
strategy for Chagas disease consists of three pillars: improving
diagnostic and therapeutic tools through innovation in research &
development, fostering collaboration and strengthen capacity in endemic
countries through a scientific platform, and increasing patients’ access
to diagnosis and treatment.
Atomwise, Inc. invented the first deep
learning AI technology for structure-based small molecule drug
discovery. Created in 2012, today Atomwise performs hundreds of projects
per year in partnership with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical
and agrochemical companies, as well as more than one hundred
universities and hospitals in more than 19 countries. Atomwise has
raised over $50 million from leading venture capital firms to support
the development and application of its AI technology.
About AIMS Awards Program
Atomwise’s Artificial Intelligence
Molecular Screen (AIMS) Awards program was created to support drug
discovery research in academia. AIMS Awards provide researchers with
Atomwise’s AI-powered in silico screening technology, compounds for
physical screening, and structural biology and medicinal chemistry
expertise. The application is open to any academic researcher affiliated
with non-profit research institutions. Applications can be submitted
online at www.atomwise.com/aims.
The next application deadline is April 29, 2019.
For more information about Atomwise or its AIMS Awards, you can visit
our website or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.