DeepCure uses artificial intelligence to develop effective, safe medication
DeepCure, a US startup dedicated to developing drugs with the help of artificial intelligence, said this week that it will open a laboratory and office in Israel for the first time.
DeepCure is an emerging company seeking to use tools such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve and accelerate the drug development process. The company was formed in 2018 by CEOs Kfir Schreiber, Joseph Jacobson, and Thrasyvoulos (Thras) Karydis, who are now chief science and chief technology officers, respectively. The three met when they were studying at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
The company is developing small molecule drugs, and DeepCure currently has five ongoing development projects for the treatment of cancer, inflammation, and neurological diseases. The most advanced of the five methods are currently being tested on animals.
Its technology is designed to shorten the drug discovery and optimization process. The company's system uses computational methods and machine learning to scan a database containing a large number of molecules (10 to 18 to the 18th power) to find the molecules most likely to treat a certain disease.
Schreiber explained that for the sake of comparison, pharmaceutical companies can currently only screen millions of molecules at a time, which limits their ability to identify enough candidate molecules, especially when it comes to the most elusive targets.
Next, DeepCure's system attempts to predict the properties needed for the drug to be effective and non-toxic. Schreiber said: "The goal of the whole process is to establish an ideal profile for a drug that can succeed in the subsequent stages of drug development (including clinical trials)."
Schreiber said that it takes an average of 6 to 7 years from starting a drug development project to conducting human clinical trials."Our goal is to reduce this period by at least two years. Our most advanced anti-cancer drug development project has been in progress for 9 months, and we believe that within one and a half years, we will be able to request the US Food and Drug Administration to approve it for clinical trials. "
DeepCure's business model is to develop drugs from start to finish and then bring them to the market. The company does not intend to license its technology to other companies, but for many of its drugs, the company plans to set up joint ventures or license the drugs to other companies on its own to complete costly clinical trials. This model is quite common in the industry.
DeepCure is one of several companies that establish a link between artificial intelligence and drug development. In Israel, these companies include startups such as CytoReason and ImmunAI. Abroad, including Atomwize, Exscintis, and Recursion. Giants in the pharmaceutical and high-tech industries have also invested in this area.
Last week, Google’s parent company Alphabet established a new company called Isomorphic Labs, dedicated to using artificial intelligence to develop drugs. Isomorphic will use powerful artificial intelligence technology developed by Alphabet subsidiary DeepMind Technologies.
Schreiber said: "There are many patients who are not getting medication, so every company that proposes a solution is helping everyone."
The challenge for DeepCure will be to prove that its artificial intelligence technology can indeed find drugs effectively, and apply it to all stages of development to the market by shortening and simplifying traditional processes. But this will take several years, during which DeepCure will need to raise more funds. Because it is ubiquitous in the pharmaceutical industry, the risk of failure is relatively high. He added: Thanks to DeepCure, the traditional drug development process that has lasted for decades and cost billions of dollars is about to be disrupted.