Poolbeg Pharma bags deal with AI firm to find influenza treatments

24 Mar 2022

Poolbeg Pharma CEO Jeremy Skillington. Image: Poolbeg

CytoReason will provide Poolbeg with AI models to analyse human trial data to better understand influenza and identify treatments.

Poolbeg Pharma is teaming up with Israel’s CytoReason to use AI models to analyse patient data and find new treatments for influenza.

A spin-out of Irish pharma services company Open Orphan, London-headquartered Poolbeg is a pharma company that focuses on clinical-stage infectious diseases and aims to find faster and more cost effective treatments than conventional models.

The company will use AI models developed by CytoReason to analyse large amounts of data from influenza human challenge trials conducted by Poolbeg.

A human challenge study is a controlled clinical infection trial in which individuals are intentionally exposed to an infectious disease organism, or a condition caused by a virus is simulated, to assess the impact of treatments.

The aim of Poolbeg’s analysis will be to gain a deep understanding of how influenza affects different humans and how the recovery process works. By doing this, the company hopes it will be able to identify novel drugs that target the disease.

CytoReason already provides its AI and machine learning technology to some of the world’s leading pharma companies, including Pfizer, Sanofi, Merck and Roche.

The partnership with Poolbeg will begin immediately, with the first set of results expected in the first half of 2023. Poolbeg said this is the first time AI is being used to analyse influenza human challenge disease progression data.

Jeremy Skillington, CEO of Poolbeg Pharma, said that the deal is about “creating opportunities” to “unlock the potential” of human challenge data and develop drugs for infectious diseases such as influenza “more quickly and cost effectively”.

“This is the first time AI analysis will be undertaken on influenza human challenge trial data and we look forward to the results early next year,” he said.

David Harel, CEO of CytoReason, added that he is excited about the potential of the partnership.

“Our top-tier scientists, along with our platform of computational disease models, will enable Poolbeg to significantly shorten the drug discovery time for influenza treatments, dramatically reduce the costs involved, and ultimately help more patients,” he said.

Last month, Poolbeg also landed a deal with US company OneThree Biotech to use its AI technology to accelerate the treatment of severe respiratory infection cause by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic