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  • Combined Technology Proves Potency against Malaria Target

Combined Technology Proves Potency against Malaria Target

May 02 2020

A partnership between Cambridge University spin-out Intellegens, which offers Artificial Intelligence (AI) toolset and drug discovery services and software company Optibrium, has reached a further significant milestone in its contribution to the Open Source Malaria (OSM) initiative, following phase 2 completion of a global challenge to develop and test novel antimalarial compounds.

Predictive models from phase 1, combined with generative methods to design novel compounds were tested for activity against a putative target in Plasmodium falciparum, the deadliest species of malaria-causing parasites.  Out of four compounds proposed in this phase, only Optibrium/Intellegens’ entry was said to have demonstrated potency against the target.

Founded in 2012 by Professor Matthew Todd, Chair of Drug Discovery at University College London, the OSM consortium aims to find new medicines for the treatment of malaria, which is recognised by the World Health Organisation as one of the world's biggest killers.

Dr Benedict Irwin, Senior Scientist at Optibrium, said: “Our latest work with the Open Source Malaria consortium is a testament to the power of Optibrium’s software. It demonstrates, in an open and transparent way, the impact this dynamic blend of computational chemistry and machine learning can have in supporting drug discovery scientists in tackling these serious diseases.”

Professor Matthew Todd, Founder of the OSM consortium, added: “It’s great to see that the Optibrium/Intellegens’ strong modelling results from phase 1 could be complemented with generative methods and held up in in vitro testing. While the use of AI in drug discovery is still in its infancy and in many cases the potential of in silico designed compounds hasn’t yet been rigorously validated experimentally, this example can help pave the way and is a valuable contribution to our efforts. I hope to see more from the team in support of our quest to develop effective treatments for malaria.”

Dr Tom Whitehead, Head of Machine Learning at Intellegens, said: “This result is a powerful validation of the benefit advanced deep learning methods such as Alchemite™ can bring to chemistry design and optimisation problems. We are looking forward to continuing to support OSM in their pursuit of new treatments for malaria.”


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