Exscientia, an AI drug discovery company, has announced its collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Research UK University of Oxford Drug Discovery Institute (ARUK-ODDI) to develop medicines targeting neuroinflammation for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
AD is the most common form of dementia worldwide, with an estimated 44 million people living with AD or related form of dementia [1,2]. Symptoms of this progressive disease are debilitating, distressing – for both those with the disease and their loved ones –and there is currently no cure .
This exciting new partnership unites Exscientia’s AI-driven molecular design capabilities with the deep therapy area knowledge and technical expertise of the ARUK-ODDI.
The collaboration will focus on a specific neuroinflammatory pathway implicated in the development of AD. Activation of the NLRP3 inflammasome has been shown to have an important role in AD pathogenesis and, while there have been other efforts to develop anti-inflammatory drugs for AD , targeting NLRP3 inflammasome inhibition in the brain is an innovative therapeutic approach.
Exscientia’s proven AI-driven technology will be applied to efficiently generate high-value novel clinical assets targeting this pathway. Feeding into this are chemical starting points that modulate NLRP3 inflammasome formation identified over years of research by the ARUK-ODDI. Coupling Exscientia’s Centaur Chemist AI-design systems with the ARUK-ODDI’s biology and screening expertise is expected to speed up delivery of distinct candidate molecules for AD.
Exscientia’s COO David Hallett commented: “Alzheimer’s is a dreadful disease that affects tens of millions worldwide. Despite clinical trials of numerous agents over a wide range of mechanisms, the last new Alzheimer’s medication, was approved nearly two decades ago. Alzheimer’s drug development is costly, complex and extremely challenging with clinical trial failure rate being the highest of any therapeutic area. Our mission is to make novel drugs available to all and we are excited to utilise our AI drug discovery platform and work alongside the expertise of the Alzheimer’s Research UK-Oxford Drug Discovery Institute team to accelerate innovation and develop potential medicines to solve this global epidemic.”
Expanding on this new relationship, Dr John Davis, CSO of the Alzheimer’s Research UK-Oxford Drug Discovery Institute drew attention to the benefits gained from the complementary capabilities of both partners: “We are delighted to be partnering with Exscientia. Their state-of-the-art AI capabilities will enable us to investigate multiple molecules in parallel and accelerate the project towards candidate declaration. Human genetic variation points towards a critical role for the body’s immune system in an individual’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It is vital that we develop treatments that target neuroinflammatory mechanisms underlying dementia.”
Dr Sara Imarisio, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Research UK said: “Scientists at our ARUK-Oxford Drug Discovery Institute are ideally placed to capitalise on the latest discoveries and work with partners to help translate this into drugs that could be tested in clinical trials. With nearly one million people in the UK living with dementia, there isn’t a moment to waste.” World Health Organization. Fact Sheet. Dementia. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/dementia. Last accessed 10 February 2021
2 Alzheimer’s News Today. Available at: https://alzheimersnewstoday.com/alzheimers-disease-statistics/. Last accessed 10 February 2021
3 NHS. Alzheimer’s Disease. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/alzheimers-disease/. Last accessed 10 February 2021
4 Immunity’s flipside: Microglia promote Alzheimer’s pathology during inflammation. Available at: https://www.novusbio.com/antibody-news/immunitys-flipside-microglia-promote-alzheimers-pathology-during-inflammation. Last accessed 10 February 2021
Image credit: Matthew Bennett