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AI, Discovery Companies Partner on Neuro Imaging Drugs

Brain circuits


30 Dec. 2020. A company discovering drugs for neurodegenerative diseases and a scientific artificial intelligence provider are partnering on image tracers for brain disorders. Aprinoia Therapeutics, in Taipei, Taiwan and Insilico Medicine in Hong Kong plan to design compounds for positron emission tomography, or PET, scans that better highlight the brain’s functions.

Aprinoia Therapeutics discovers and develops diagnostic drugs and therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. The company focuses on accumulations of tau, a protein that can build up in plaques on neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain. These plaques can result in disorganizing nerve cell fibers into neurofibrillary tangles, considered a key indicator of Alzheimer’s disease.

One of Aprinoia’s product lines is PET scan tracers to help highlight neurofibrillary tangles and other tau accumulations in the brain. In fact, the company’s lead product is one such PET scan tracer code-named APN-1607, now in a clinical trial. The collaboration with Insilico Medicine aims to design new higher-performing PET scanning chemicals.

Insilico Medicine provides artificial intelligence services for drug discovery and development. Among Insilico’s offerings is a service called Chemistry42 that uses a machine learning platform to design new drug molecules. Insilico says Chemistry 42 can design new drug compounds from scratch, from specifications for the desired chemical structure, binding properties, metabolic stability, and other characteristics. The company says its service can explore millions of molecules and return up to hundreds of optimized compounds in one week, as well as annotate all of the properties for each compound generated.

The agreement calls for Aprinoia Therapeutics to design new types of PET tracers using Insilico Medicine’s Chemistry42 service. Aprinoia is paying Insilico an initial fee, as well as payments for achieving specified milestones, although dollar amounts of those payments were not disclosed.

“Early diagnosis is critical for disease management,” says Ming-Kuei Jang, CEO of Aprinoia Therapeutics in a company statement released through Cision. “Our initial focus is to discover novel imaging PET tracers to quantify and visualize pathologies of abnormal proteins in the brain. With Insilico’s AI-powered platform, we are hoping to shorten the time from lab to clinics to benefit patients and in the medical communities.”

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