Poolbeg Pharma identifies new flu drug targets using AI

29 Jun 2023

Poolbeg Pharma CEO Jeremy Skillington. Image: Poolbeg Pharma

Using an AI platform developed by CytoReason, London-headquartered Poolbeg Pharma has been analysing flu human challenge trials data since March 2022.

Poolbeg Pharma, an Irish biopharmaceutical company that focuses on infectious diseases, says it has made a “breakthrough” with AI-aided discovery of novel drug targets to treat the flu.

The London-headquartered company’s disease progression data from influenza human challenge trials were combined with more data from CytoReason, a tech company developing computational disease models, and fed into an AI-led platform.

The AI platform developed by CytoReason then analysed the data and identified multiple novel drug targets over a period of just 15 months.

Earlier this year, Poolbeg had announced that, while investigating the role of cytokine release syndrome (CRS) in severe influenza, it discovered data specific to the overt immune response in CAR T-cell patients that suggest POLB 001 as a potential treatment.

POLB 001 is Poolbeg’s treatment for severe influenza and the latest patent, if approved, will allow the company to use POLB 001 to address the impact of CRS in CAR T-cell patients.

CAR T-cell therapies are a form of immunotherapy for cancer that have produced promising results across a range of haematological malignancies, such as in cases where previous therapies have failed for patients with advanced leukaemia and lymphoma.

The latest analysis in collaboration with CytoReason confirmed the significance of the p38 MAP kinase pathway in influenza, providing further validation for Poolbeg’s POLB 001 programme.

Poolbeg CEO Jeremy Skillington said that the clinical-stage company’s collaboration with CytoReason has put it “at the forefront of AI drug discovery”.

“CytoReason’s deep interrogation of the uniquely rich data derived from human challenge trials has deepened our knowledge of influenza, resulting in the identification of multiple novel influenza drug targets,” said Skillington.

“There is a significant unmet need for new and better treatments for vulnerable patients with influenza and this is a major milestone in the delivery of new therapies that can improve patient outcomes and global health.”

This is not the first time Poolbeg has used AI to discover novel drugs. Last December, Poolbeg said it used AI to identify potential new drug candidates for respiratory syncytial virus.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic