Japanese pharmaceutical company uses Israel’s CytoReason for AI drug development


CytoReason, an Israeli startup that uses artificial intelligence to create digital models of the human immune system and disease to accelerate drug development, said Thursday it is partnering with Japanese company Summit Pharmaceuticals International (SPI ) to integrate its machine learning platform into the Japanese system. the company’s clinical drug discovery platform.

CytoReason and SPI have worked together for more than two years to advance the Israeli startup in the Japanese pharmaceutical industry, the third in the world after those in the United States and China.

This is the first official collaboration of the two companies, which will explore “the relationship between disease mechanisms and the drug MoA [mechanisms of action] in order to increase the valorization of the drug in immunology ”, they declared Thursday in the announcement.

CytoReason was founded in 2016 to allow drug makers to use the computer technology it developed as a kind of GPS to navigate the immune system. Machine learning software collects and combines data from a variety of sources, including internal data and published research on the immune system and other clinical studies, to uncover information about the biology of disease. The technology then builds a digital computer simulator of the human body that can be used to predict drug responses, thus providing guidance as to which ones can best benefit patients.

Essentially, CytoReason allows pharmaceutical companies “to develop their drugs on our platform using AI to simulate the response rather than wait for animal trials and then clinical trials,” said the CEO and co- CytoReason founder David Harel to The Times of Israel in a phone interview. “It also cuts costs. “

Cost and time are huge factors in drug discovery and development. On average, it takes billions of dollars and almost a decade to develop new drugs, due to the lengthy trials and lab work involved in the process. According to a 2016 study that looked at average R&D amounts for new drug development, costs are between $ 1.4 billion and $ 2.8 billion after market approval.

CytoReason co-founder and CEO David Harel. (Courtesy)

CytoReason has previously worked with some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer, French drug maker Sanofi, Swiss pharmaceutical companies Ferring and Roche, and UK company GSK.

With Pfizer, CytoReason worked on “computer models of human diseases in the division of immunology and the division of oncology,” said Harel. Joint work has so far resulted in research on biological targets for a disease as well as an experimental compound that interferes with CCR6, a protein that is elevated in some autoimmune diseases like lupus and inflammatory diseases of the lupus. intestine (IBD).

IBD is a lifelong chronic disease that affects the digestive system and includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Battles can last for days, weeks, or months at a time.

CytoReason’s work with Sanofi has focused on developing a new treatment for asthma patients, and its collaboration with Ferring is focused on new treatments for patients with IBD.

The new partnership with SPI is CytoReason’s first outside the United States and Europe.

“We are delighted to enter the Japanese market with such an important player in the country’s pharmaceutical industry,” Harel said in a company statement. “This collaboration represents a significant step forward for our company and for the global pharmaceutical industry. “

Katsuya Okuyama, President and CEO of SPI, said the pharmaceutical company “will continue to contribute to the healthcare industry through collaboration with CytoReason”.

SPI is a subsidiary of Sumitomo Corporation, a global trading company with 113 locations in 66 countries.

CytoReason is headquartered in Tel Aviv and employs approximately 65 people in Israel, the United States and Europe. Its technology was originally developed at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. To date, the company has raised $ 10 million from investors, according to Start-Up Nation Central’s database.

Shoshanna Solomon contributed to this report.

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