Iktos, a company specialized in artificial intelligence (AI) for novel drug design and SRI International (SRI), a research center headquartered in Menlo Park, California, today announced that the companies have entered into a collaboration agreement designed to accelerate discovery and development of novel anti-viral therapies. Under the collaboration, Iktos’ generative modeling technology will be combined with SRI’s SynFini™, a fully automated end-to-end synthetic chemistry system, to design novel, optimized compounds and accelerate the identification of drug candidates to treat multiple viruses, including influenza and the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19).
Iktos’ AI technology, based on deep generative models, helps bring speed and efficiency to the drug discovery process by automatically designing virtual novel molecules that have all of the desirable characteristics of a novel drug candidate. This tackles one of the key challenges in drug design: rapid and iterative identification of molecules which simultaneously validate multiple bioactive attributes and drug-like criteria for clinical testing.
“Iktos generative AI technology has proven its value and potential to accelerate drug discovery programs in multiple collaborations with renowned pharmaceutical companies. We are eager to apply it to SRI’s endonuclease program, and hope our collaboration with SRI can make a difference and speed up the identification of promising new therapeutic option for the treatment of COVID-19,” said Yann Gaston-Mathé, co-founder and CEO of Iktos. “We are excited at the prospect of combining our automated compound design technology with SRI’s SynFini platform and the potential this has to further accelerate drug discovery.”
SRI’s SynFini platform is designed to accelerate chemical discovery and development, and thereby bring new drugs to the clinic more quickly and affordably. The closed loop SynFini platform automates the design, reaction screening and optimization (RSO), and production of target molecules. SynFini comprises three components that work seamlessly together: a software platform (SynRoute™), a reaction screening platform (SynJet™), and a multi-step flow chemistry automation and development platform (AutoSyn™).
SRI has an ongoing program focused on discovering drugs to block endonuclease enzymes that are common to many viruses. These enzymes are involved in viral replication and blocking of host resistance to infection. Sequence analysis of COVID-19 indicates that this virus has an endonuclease that it is genetically about 97 percent similar to the SARS virus. Recent studies show that blocking the SARS virus endonuclease inhibits the infection’s pathogenesis, leading to a 100 percent survival rate in preclinical models. This suggests that the COVID-19 endonuclease is a good therapeutic target.
“The SynFini system has the potential to dramatically expedite small molecule drug discovery,” said Nathan Collins, Ph.D., Chief Strategy Officer of SRI’s Biosciences Division and Head of the SynFini program. “We look forward to exploring how the integration of Iktos’ AI-driven generative molecule combined with SynFini supports the rapid and efficient discovery of new drugs to treat emerging infectious diseases.”
By combining platforms for the accelerated molecular design and automated production of target molecules with established high-throughput biology, Iktos and SRI hope to demonstrate a new paradigm in extremely rapid drug discovery against high-value pharmaceutical targets.
Incorporated in October 2016, Iktos is a French start-up company specialized in the development of artificial intelligence solutions applied to chemical research, more specifically medicinal chemistry and new drug design. Iktos is developing a proprietary and innovative solution based on deep learning generative models, which enables, using existing data, to design molecules that are optimized in silico to meet all the success criteria of a small molecule discovery project. The use of Iktos technology enables major productivity gains in upstream pharmaceutical R&D. Iktos offers its technology both as professional services and as a SaaS software platform, Makya™. Iktos is also developing Spaya™, a synthesis planning software based upon Iktos’s proprietary AI technology for retrosynthesis.
About SRI International
SRI International, a non-profit research institute founded in 1946 and headquartered in Menlo Park, California, creates world-changing solutions to make people safer, healthier, and more productive. SRI Biosciences, a division of SRI International, integrates basic biomedical research with drug and diagnostics discovery, and preclinical and clinical development. SRI Biosciences has produced several marketed drugs and advanced more than 100 drugs to clinical trials. The division is focused on novel platforms and programs in a variety of therapeutic areas targeting high unmet medical needs. SRI Biosciences collaborates with a broad range of partners from small and virtual biotechnology companies to top 10 pharmaceutical companies and other leading industry partners. More information is available at www.sri.com.