Pfizer supports Israeli CytoReason and signs AI-based research agreement

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is investing $20 million in Israeli company CytoReason, a developer of computational disease models for drug discovery and development, as part of a broader deal worth up to $110 million over the next five years, the companies announced on Tuesday.

The agreement builds on an existing multi-year cooperation agreement dating from 2019 that allows Pfizer to use the digital models of the human immune system and diseases developed by CytoReason in its quest to design innovative medicines.

Under the terms of the renewed partnership agreement, Pfizer will invest up to $20 million in equity, license options for CytoReason’s platform and disease models under a multi-year commercial agreement of worth $90 million, and will fund additional research projects, bringing the total transaction value to $110 million by 2027.

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CytoReason says its technologies have provided Pfizer with insight into a number of R&D programs for more than 20 diseases, including autoimmune disorders such as lupus and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD are chronic diseases that affect the digestive system and include Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

The new research agreement will support the development of additional disease models in new therapeutic areas, the two parties said.

“Pfizer has been a strategic partner of CytoReason since 2019, and we are excited to extend our collaboration as one of Pfizer’s trusted partners in artificial intelligence to accelerate drug development,” said David Harel. , co-founder and CEO of CytoReason, in a company statement.

CytoReason co-founders, from right to left: David Harel, CEO, Professor Shai Shen-Orr, Chief Scientist, Elina Starosvetsky, VP Biology, and Renaud Gaujoux, Principal Scientist and Data Science Architect. (Credit: Fabian Koldorff)

The partnership will enable “meaningful change in the biotech industry” and help “drive future research and development for pharmaceutical companies as they continue to use machine learning to develop treatments more efficiently,” Harel said. .

Founded in 2016, CytoReason has developed computer technology that serves as a GPS-like mechanism for immune system navigation. The machine learning software collects and combines data from a variety of sources, including internal data and published research on the immune system and other clinical studies, to uncover insights into disease biology.

The technology then builds a digital, computational simulator of the human body that can be used to predict drug responses, providing guidance as to which ones can best benefit patients.

Essentially, CytoReason allows pharmaceutical companies “to develop their drugs on our platform using AI to simulate the response rather than waiting for animal trials and then clinical trials,” Harel told the Times of Israel Last year. “It also saves costs. »

Cost, and time, are huge factors in drug discovery and development. On average, it takes billions of dollars and nearly a decade to develop new drugs, due to the lengthy trials and lab work involved in the process. According to a 2016 study that looked at average R&D amounts for new drug development, it was found that costs were between $1.4 billion and $2.8 billion after market approval.

Mikael Dolsten, chief scientific officer and president of global research at Pfizer, said the company looks forward to continuing its work with CytoReason’s team of some 80 biologists, bioinformaticians and data engineers, and “leveraging of its state-of-the-art platform. »

Pfizer supports Israeli CytoReason and signs AI based research agreement

The production of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children under 5 in Puurs, Belgium. (Credit: Pfizer via AP)

“CytoReason’s biodata enables us to better understand the best drug development pathways for patients, which translates into more informed, timely and cost-effective decisions,” Dolsten said.

CytoReason has also worked with other major global pharmaceutical companies, including French manufacturer Sanofi, Swiss pharmaceutical companies Ferring and Roche, and UK company GSK.

The Israeli company’s work with Sanofi has focused on developing a new treatment for asthma patients, and its collaboration with Ferring centers on new treatments for patients with IBD.

CytoReason is headquartered in Tel Aviv and employs around 80 people in Israel, the United States and Europe. Its technology was originally developed at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology.

To date, the company has raised about $20 million in private capital from investors including PICO Venture Partners and OurCrowd, according to the Start-Up Nation Finder database.

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Pfizer supports Israeli CytoReason and signs AI-based research agreement

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