Healx signs deal with Boehringer Ingelheim to aid fight against rare neurological diseases
Healx is to help pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim identify new uses for its drug pipeline.
The Cambridge company’s artificial intelligence-based drug discovery platform Healnet will be deployed in the fight against rare neurological diseases.
Healx’s data analysis will assist the multinational company in prioritising selected indications for further research.
Dr Tim Guilliams, founder and CEO of Healx, said: “Healx is dedicated to transforming the lives of rare disease patients by intelligently matching and developing potential drug treatments to their conditions. We believe that sophisticated technologies, such as AI and machine learning methods, will be fundamental to any drug discovery and development project in the future.
“The project with Boehringer Ingelheim presents an opportunity for further innovation in identifying rare disease candidates for patients whose medical needs are not currently met. Harnessing BI’s expertise for drug development, especially in rare neurological conditions, in combination with our AI-powered drug discovery platform, will enable faster identification of potential new treatments.”
The announcement caps a stellar year for Healx, which in October won AI Company of the Year at the 2019 Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards and completed a $56million Series B funding round to drive forward 40 new programmes.
Last month it committed $20m to its Rare Treatment Accelerator programme, inviting patient groups to apply.
It uses the most comprehensive knowledge graph of rare disease data to predict and match treatments to rare diseases, helping to slash the drug development timeline.
With more than 7,000 rare diseases identified to date - defined as those affecting fewer than one in 2,000 people - and 250 new ones classified annually, there is a huge unmet medical need that traditional drug discovery has been unable to address.
Worldwide, more than 400 million people suffer from these rare diseases, yet fewer than five per cent of them have approved treatments.
Healx, based at Charter House on Hills Road, has already worked in the field of rare neurological disorders.
Its Healnet platform has identified eight drug candidates that could be repurposed to help patients with Fragile X syndrome, which were previously not considered. Several of these candidates have demonstrated efficacy in vivo and one candidate is now progressing towards a phase 2a trial next year.
The company, founded in 2014, has also collaborated with the Pitt Hopkins Research Foundation, using Healnet to investigate, predict and progress novel treatment options for the ultra-rare neurodevelopmental disorder Pitt-Hopkins syndrome.
Healx’s mission is to advance 100 rare disease treatments towards the clinic by 2025.
More by this authorPaul Brackley