COVID-19 treatment : Cyclica, Institute of Materia Medica partner on drug repurposing for coronavirus

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COVID-19 treatment : The Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences has entered into a collaboration with Canadian biotech company Cyclica for discovering antiviral drug candidates for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) and for exploring opportunities for designing multi-targeted antiviral compounds.

According to the partners, new drug development efforts to tackle the prevailing pandemic of the Wuhan coronavirus can involve a lot of resources and also a number of years of pre-clinical and also clinical testing. Keeping these in mind, the Institute of Materia Medica Partners and Cyclica believe that drug repurposing will give a more effective strategy that meets the urgency of the need for COVID-19 treatments.

The partners also reckon that artificial intelligence (AI) approaches to drug repurposing can be put into use for further accelerating the recommendation of potential therapeutic solutions for novel coronavirus.

Cyclica said that its MatchMaker deep learning engine and the PolypharmDB database of clinically assessed molecules have been leveraged to investigate human targets and also viral proteins with potential therapeutic relevance for COVID-19 treatment in a rapid manner. This has led to a set of molecules that can interact with the putative therapeutic targets for novel coronavirus, said the Canadian biotech company.

Cyclica, Institute of Materia Medica propose drug repurposing for COVID-19 treatment

Cyclica, Institute of Materia Medica propose drug repurposing for COVID-19 treatment. Photo courtesy of Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

Cyclica stated: “While the results are promising, modelling viral proteins pushes MatchMaker beyond established benchmarks, increasing the uncertainty around predictions for those targets. The prioritized set of molecules resulting from the interrogation of PolypharmDB represents an actionable collection of molecules primed for testing.”

As part of the collaboration on drug repurposing for COVID-19 treatment, the Beijing-based Institute of Materia Medica will carry out in vitro and in vivo antiviral evaluation for molecules proposed by the Canadian biotech company. Apart from that, the two organizations will cooperate in a longer-term effort to design multi-target antiviral compounds with an objective of reducing drug resistance.

Naheed Kurji – President & CEO of Cyclica said: “We have been closely following the progression of COVID-19 epidemic in China, and increasingly around the world. At the same time, we want to contribute our AI platform to searching for innovative therapies to overcome this viral outbreak in a way that is conducive to a rapid response. The opportunity to work with the leading scientists at the Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences is one that we couldn’t pass up.”

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