The University of Michigan is partnering with Atomwise to use artificial intelligence to accelerate drug discovery programs.
Researchers from the University of Michigan (U-M) College of Pharmacy and U-M Life Sciences Institute, as well as Michigan Medicine, are partnering with Atomwise to use artificial intelligence tools to advance their drug development projects.
U-M researchers will use Atomwise’s Artificial Intelligence Molecular Screen (AIMS) Awards program, which uses AI-powered screening technology employed through large pharmaceutical companies. The AIMS Awards program is working to foster translational research in academia. By providing researchers with access to AI tools, the AIMS Awards program allows investigators to test more compounds efficiently and increase their chance of success.
Research labs will also work with Fast Forward Medical Innovation (FFMI), a unit within the U-M Medical School Office of Research, to accelerate discoveries.
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FFMI offers resources for biomedical researchers at U-M and across the state. The unit has developed integrative programs that span idea funding, mentorship, and business development activities that bring long-term added value to the medical industry.
“FFMI’s mission is to accelerate and support the transfer of technologies from academia to the private sector for commercialization, so partnerships with companies like Atomwise, which can help speed up the early stages of the drug discovery process, are very exciting to our program and the researchers we serve,” said Steve Kunkel, PhD, Interim Executive Vice Dean for Research, U-M Medical School, and Interim Chief Scientific Officer, Michigan Medicine.
Alan Smrcka, PhD, who works in the U-M Department of Pharmacology, is among the researchers working with Atomwise and FFMI.
Smrcka is collaborating with the U-M Therapeutic Innovation Fund, which is co-managed by FFMI and Michigan Center for Therapeutic Innovation, to accelerate his pain management research efforts through funding and mentorship.
Smrcka has identified a target protein that has the potential to eradicate opioid misuse if he can discover a drug to alter pain response.
“With strong recommendations from the U-M Therapeutic Innovation Fund team, I applied for an AIMS Award, which is helping us screen a massive and diverse chemical space that would otherwise be hard to obtain for researchers like me,” said Smrcka.
Daniel Lawrence, PhD, who works in the Department of Internal Medicine and Cardiovascular Medicine, is also working with Atomwise and FFMI. His research focuses on fibrotic disease, a condition that causes the body to produce an uncontrolled amount of scar tissue, resulting in excessive tissue deposits that can lead to organ failure.
Lawrence has developed a drug that can inhibit the growth of scar tissue and greatly improve treatment options in several areas, including fibrotic diseases of the lung, kidney, and heart. Atomwise will virtually screen 10 million commercially available small molecule compounds using AI technology to help Lawrence further his drug discovery efforts.
“We’re pleased to have been selected to receive an AIMS Award,” said Lawrence, a U-M Medical School Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine, and Founder and Scientific Advisory Board Chairman of MDI Therapeutics, Inc.
“We’re excited by the potential for Atomwise’s AI virtual screen to enhance our existing structure-based drug discovery effort, which is focused on the discovery of small molecule inhibitors for a difficult-to-target protein that plays a critical regulatory role in the development of fibrosis.”
With this new partnership, U-M researchers will enhance their projects and speed up the drug discovery process.
“I’m excited to be collaborating with researchers at U-M,” said Matthew Young, PhD, senior scientist at Atomwise and a U-M alumnus and former professor at the U-M Department of Pharmacology.
“AIMS Awards are designed for faculty across all areas of biology, providing cutting-edge AI-screening technology and expertise that many could benefit from. I look forward to collaborating with U-M researchers to make progress on challenging diseases.”
Date: July 11, 2019