GERMANY — BioMed X, a German independent research institute has formed a research collaboration with Sanofi to use artificial intelligence (AI) in drug development.

The preliminary model will focus on chronic immune-mediated diseases such as atopic dermatitis (AD) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as proof-of-concept (PoC).

A new research team will be established at the BioMed X Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, as part of the joint research project.

This group will concentrate on developing a versatile computational platform capable of accurately forecasting the efficacy of first-in-class drug candidates in virtual patient groups.

The companies will collaborate to develop a virtual patient engine for clinical translation of the drug candidates.

The use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in drug discovery and development is increasing rapidly in the biopharma industry.

Virtual patient populations and digital twining seek to leverage vast data troves to the ones of prior research to help inform which drug candidates should be prioritized for further development.

The collaboration intends to address the pharmaceutical industry’s key bottleneck of a 90% failure rate of new therapy candidates in clinical development.

Sanofi’s deep datasets and capabilities will be leveraged for the project in order to potentially transform the practice of medicine through the use of digital data and AI.

Christian Tidona, Founder and Managing Director of the BioMed X Institute said: “Our new collaboration with Sanofi allows us to further extend our data science and AI expertise in Heidelberg, where we have developed an ideal incubation environment for biomedical innovation at the interface between academia and industry.

For the project, the companies will assemble a diverse group of skilled researchers.

The new group will join the BioMed X Institute’s 11 research teams, which are currently using complex human ex-vivo models and data science in oncology, immunology, and neuroscience.

The latest development follows the signing of a co-promotion agreement between Sanofi US and Provention Bio to launch the latter’s teplizumab for the delayed onset of clinical type 1 diabetes.

Meanwhile, BioMed X had also launched a new research project called ‘Extrachromosomal DNA in Cancer’ (EDC) in collaboration with Merck KGaA’s Healthcare Business in Darmstadt, Germany.

The primary goal of this research group is to create an atlas of extrachromosomal DNA (ecDNA) in human cancer tissues and to investigate the mechanisms underlying ecDNA formation and function.

Extrachromosomal DNA refers to DNA sequences that are not located on chromosomes.

Furthermore, cancer-associated extrachromosomal DNA typically contains oncogenes and regulatory regions that can provide cancer cells with a selective growth advantage, such as drug resistance, while also rapidly increasing intratumoral genetic heterogeneity.

This is the seventh oncology collaboration between the BioMed X Institute and Merck’s Healthcare Business, and the third currently active project developing innovative anticancer therapies.

The BioMed X Institute’s other two Darmstadt-collaborated cancer research teams are investigating RNA splicing in cancer and synthetic lethality in DNA repair.

Rather than focusing on a specific cancer type, all three projects seek to understand the fundamentals of how biology is altered in the context of cancer.

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