Pfizer backs Israel’s CytoReason and signs a new research agreement for the creation of AI drugs.
As part of a bigger arrangement to licence technology and cooperate on R&D, a US pharmaceutical company will contribute $20 million in equity.
As part of a larger arrangement worth up to $110 million over the next five years, pharmaceutical behemoth Pfizer is investing $20 million in Israeli company CytoReason, a creator of computational illness models for drug research and development, the firms said on Tuesday.
The partnership expands upon a multi-year cooperation agreement that was first reached in 2019 and enables Pfizer to employ CytoReason’s digital simulations of the human immune system and diseases in its quest to create ground-breaking medications.
According to the terms of the renewed partnership agreement, Pfizer will invest $20 million in equity, have the option to pay $90 million over several years to licence CytoReason’s platform and disease models, and fund additional research initiatives, bringing the total transaction value to $110 million by 2027.
According to CytoReason, its solutions have given Pfizer access to information about numerous R&D projects spanning more than 20 illnesses, including autoimmune diseases like lupus and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD, which encompasses Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, is a chronic, lifelong illness that affects the digestive tract.
According to the parties, the new research agreement will help the creation of additional disease models in new therapeutic fields.
In a statement released by the firm, CytoReason co-founder and CEO David Harel said, “Pfizer has been a strategic partner of CytoReason since 2019. We are happy to scale our partnership as one of Pfizer’s trusted AI partners for speeding drug development.”
According to Harel, the alliance will assist “drive future R&D for pharmaceutical companies as they continue to use machine learning to produce therapies more effectively” and accelerate “a huge shift in the biotech business.”
CytoReason, a company founded in 2016, created computational technology that acts as the immune system’s GPS. To gain insights into the biology of diseases, the machine-learning programme gathers and combines data from a range of sources, including internal data, published research on the immune system, and other clinical trials.
The technique then creates a digital, computer model of the human body that may be used to anticipate drug responses, so guiding researchers toward the treatments that will help patients the most.
In essence, Harel explained to The Times of Israel last year, CytoReason “allows pharmaceutical companies to develop their medications on our platform using AI to simulate the response rather than waiting for animal testing and then clinical trials.” Costs are decreased as a result of this.
Time and money are major considerations in the development of new drugs. Due to the extensive testing and lab work required, developing new pharmaceuticals typically costs billions of dollars and takes approximately ten years. The expenses were discovered to be between $1.4 billion and $2.8 billion after market approval, per a 2016 study that looked at the typical R&D budgets for producing new pharmaceuticals.
Chief Scientific Officer and President of Global Research at Pfizer, Mikael Dolsten, stated that the business was eager to continue working with CytoReason’s staff of over 80 biologists, bioinformaticians, and data engineers and to “use its cutting-edge platform.”
“CytoReason’s biological data allows us to gain deeper insight into the best drug development pathways for patients, resulting in more informed decisions that are timely and cost-effective,” said Dolsten.
The French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, the Swiss pharmaceutical giants Ferring and Roche, the UK’s GSK, and other top worldwide pharmaceutical firms have all collaborated with CytoReason.
New medicines for asthma patients were the emphasis of the Israeli company’s collaboration with Sanofi, while new treatments for IBD patients were the focus of its partnership with Ferring.
About 80 individuals work for CytoReason, which has its headquarters in Tel Aviv and has operations in Israel, the US, and Europe. The Technion, an Israeli institute of technology, was where its technology was first created.
According to the Start-Up Nation Finder database, the company has so far secured around $20 million in private funding from investors like PICO Venture Partners and OurCrowd.