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Relation Therapeutics teams up with Mila to identify COVID-19 therapeutic candidates

Relation Therapeutics teams up with Mila to identify COVID-19 therapeutic candidates

2 September 2020
Image: Fusion Medical Automation

Relation Therapeutics, a drug development company driven by data science and machine learning (ML), has announced Project RE, which will use technology to idenitfy of repurposed drug combinations as potential therapeutic candidates for COVID-19.

Project RE will focus on finding therapies to tackle viral entry and replication and is co-led between Mila (Quebec AI Institute) and Relation Therapeutics, with the overall scientific direction by Mila founder Professor Yoshua Bengio (Turing Award winner 2018). The project will also create a platform to develop therapies that appropriately modulate the immune response through distinct stages of infection with oversight from Relation’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr David Roblin. Funding for Project RE is provided by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to Relation Therapeutics.

Relation Therapeutics and Mila will aim to leverage the most powerful machine learning techniques currently being deployed in the world’s largest tech companies and academia, to revolutionise computational drug development. In order to coalesce thought leadership in the space, Relation has strengthened its senior leadership team and SAB with five key appointments: Dr Charles Campbell Roberts, serial entrepreneur, has been appointed Chairperson; Dr David Roblin, COO Juvenescence and former Head of R&D for Pfizer Europe, has been appointed Chief Medical Officer: Professors Michael Bronstein, from Imperial and Twitter, and Will Hamilton and Jian Tang, both from Mila, have been appointed to the SAB.

Dr Charles Campbell Roberts, Relation Therapeutics’ Chairperson, said: “Relation is honoured to work with the Gates Foundation in seeking to rapidly identify COVID-19 therapeutic candidates. Graph ML is at the cutting edge of machine learning, underlying core recommender technologies at tech giants such as Pinterest and is a key research topic at DeepMind. Relation is amongst the first to deploy these approaches directly in drug development, and has been deeply fortunate in attracting so many of the leading scientists in the space to this mission.”

Professor Yoshua Bengio, Mila founder, said: “Using advances in machine learning we can integrate many sources of information about a disease, and build systems that improve over time using active learning. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has identified this approach as a perfect opportunity to use ML to correctly identify and evaluate potential drug combinations as therapeutic approaches for COVID-19, by searching colossal combinatorial space as fast as possible.”

Dr David Roblin, CMO, Relation Therapeutics, said: “Our race together is to beat COVID-19 and improve patient outcomes by identifying existing therapeutics that can be repurposed. To do this we have assembled an outstanding team with Mila and Relation data science, machine learning, biology and drug development expertise. This is essential funding to enable these efforts.”

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