The failure of new drug therapy candidates in the clinical development process has plagued the pharmaceutical industry for some time now. The failure rate presently is as high as 90%. BioMed X and Sanofi plan to combat this problem through their partnership.
Reports from as recent as 2019 have suggested that the majority of drug development projects that fail in clinical phases are due to a lack of efficacy. It has been proposed that virtual patients be used in the drug development process because of the impact it will have on efficacy and dosing.
Under the research partnership, a joint team will be set up to focus on developing a precise computational platform to predict first-in-class drug candidates’ efficacy. That too in virtual settings. They will also create a virtual patient engine for the clinical translation of patients and will work out of BioMed X’s Heidelberg institute. This venue is less than an hour away from Sanofi’s Frankfurt research and development site.
According to Dr. Christian Tidona, managing director of BioMed X “With the virtual patient platforms the aim is to transfer all current processes onto a digital system, this will allow us to shrink physical trials in size, consequently increasing the response rate of new therapies.”
The initial model will use chronic immune-mediated diseases as proof-of-concept (PoC). These include inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and atopic dermatitis (AD). The hope is that taking up clinical candidates virtually will allow researchers to better assess the quality of candidates and rather than building a straightforward AI model, a more nuanced model with in-depth biological knowledge will be developed.
The company is yet to select researchers for the project, but the BioMed RX platform is looking to employ only the best early-career talents. The company stated that it takes pride in fostering an atmosphere that strikes a balance between industry and academia which helps recruits develop ideas to the best of their abilities.
Under this partnership particularly, 15 early-career scientists will be invited to a 5-day boot camp in Heidelberg where they will assist them in developing a project proposal. The best proposal will be reallocated to Heidelberg for a 5-year project term at the BioMed X Institute to implement the plan they come up with.
The new group will be joining the existing 11 research teams at BioMed X who have been working on incorporating human ex-vivo models in the fields of oncology, immunology, and neuroscience.
BioMed X has initiated 20 research projects since it was established in 2013 and has worked alongside Boehringer Ingelheim, Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie.With intentions to expand globally, the company has now launched a startup incubator called AION Labs in Israel. Drug development through the use of artificial intelligence will be the focus of this project. In addition to this, the company plans to launch a new institute next to the Yale University campus in New Haven.
Sanofi is also not new to the use of AI in data analysis as its DARWIN real-world data platform already makes use of such technology.