Israel-based AION Labs, an AI-enabled drug discovery partnership between global pharma and tech companies, announced the launch of its second startup, DenovAI.
DenovAI will develop an AI-enabled computational biophysics platform that can discover potential antibodies directed toward specific epitopes (the part of an antigen molecule recognized by the immune system to which an antibody attaches itself). The company said the platform will design antibodies from scratch, then suggest which candidates will likely make effective drugs.
AION Labs was built under a government tender and includes pharma giants AstraZeneca, Merck, Pfizer and Teva, alongside venture capital firm Israel Biotech Fund, strategic partner Amazon Web Services and German independent research institute Bio Med X.
Funding and pharmaceutical data for machine learning development and model training will be provided to DenovAI by AION Labs.
“We have seen major advances in the field of therapeutic antibodies, but the process of developing new drugs is incredibly slow, vastly expensive and inefficient. With the support of AION Labs and its partners, we hope to develop a cutting-edge solution that will disrupt the whole field, cutting discovery timelines from months to days. And which could dramatically broaden the scope of antibody therapy to many more diseases,” Dr. Kashif Sadiq, founder and CEO of DenovAI, said in a statement.
THE LARGER TREND
AION Labs announced its first startup last year, dubbed OMEC.AI, which aims to build an AI-enabled computational platform to help researchers assess the clinical trial readiness of a drug candidate, identify hidden safety liabilities and suggest experiments to close any identified gaps.
“What we’re trying to achieve at AION Labs in general … is creating great independent-growth AI-based startups for the biotech field so we can help scientists and researchers — not to replace them, but to really empower them by bringing new technological capability so that they can optimize the whole process of drug discovery and development,” Mati Gil, CEO of AION Labs, told MobiHealthNews in September.
Other companies utilizing AI tools for drug discovery include drug research platform Insilico Medicine and UK-based health tech firm Healx, which uses AI to accelerate drug discovery and treatments for rare diseases.