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    April 19, 2024

    Drug Discovery Industry Roundup with Barry Bunin — April 19, 2024

    Barry Bunin, PhD Founder & CEO Collaborative Drug Discovery

    Barry Bunin, PhD
    Founder & CEO
    Collaborative Drug Discovery

    “How Moderna Is Embracing Data & AI To Transform Drug Discovery” That’s the headline in a recent article in Forbes about the company’s extensive use of AI, including its creation of the Moderna AI Academy to accelerate training on AI at all levels of its organization. “Implementing AI use cases across our value chain, from research to manufacturing to commercialization, allows us to create better medicines and optimize the speed at which we bring mRNA medicines to market,” says Brad Miller, Chief Information Officer of Moderna. “The informational nature of mRNA lends itself well to drug design and optimization of algorithms. AI helps us identify the optimal sequences for mRNA and proteins that generate the desired response within the body.”

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    "FDA Approves Potential 'Game Changer' for Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.” BioSpace carries that headline about FDA approval of Merck’s sotatercept (brand name Winrevair) the first FDA-approved activin signaling inhibitor therapy for PAH. The drug, which was part of Merck’s $11.5 billion acquisition of Acceleron Pharma, improves the balance between pro- and anti-proliferative signaling to regulate vascular cell proliferation, an underlying cause of PAH. Winrevair is intended to be used alongside existing PAH therapies to increase exercise capacity, lessen the severity of PAH and reduce the risk of disease worsening. “[Winrevair] was the main opportunity that we saw with the Acceleron acquisition,” Mahesh Patel, VP of global clinical development at Merck Research Laboratories, told BioSpace. “We have been so fortunate in how well things have gone in the acquisition, executing on the clinical development program and seeing paradigm-changing clinical trial results through it.”

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    "US Scientists Are Leaving Academia. That’s Bad News for Drug Companies.” That’s the headline from a recent article in CNN about concerns that comparatively low pay for post- doctoral work is tempting newly minted Ph.Ds to immediately move into the private sector—which will harm pharma in the long run as basic research suffers. The article reads in part: “Scientists in the United States,  especially those in the biomedical fields, are increasingly leaving the world of academia for better-paying industry jobs amid stagnant federal funding and low wages. It’s a troubling sign for the future of US-based medical research and development at pharmaceutical and biotech companies, which rely on the experimental science housed at universities to develop cutting-edge commercial products.” “Science postdocs perform the science,” Donna Ginther, a University of Kansas economist who studies the science labor market, told CNN. “They’re actually in the lab doing the work, so they make very important contributions to new scientific discovery.” Ginther notes: “There’s no economic benefit (to doing a postdoctoral fellowship). “If you spend four to six years in a postdoc and then jump into the industry, your starting salary is the same as if we would have just entered into industry automatically.”

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    "Unforgettable Sex? “New Data Support Viagra for Alzheimer’s Prevention.” AI-assisted research provides evidence that sildenafil (Viagra) which is used to treat erectile dysfunction may help protect against Alzheimer's disease. Medscape, in an article headlined “New Data Support Viagra for Alzheimer’s Prevention,” reports on a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease that an analysis of patient data from two databases showed a 30% to 54% reduced prevalence in Alzheimer’s among patients who took sildenafil compared to those who did not, after adjusting for potential confounding factors. "Our findings provide further weight to repurposing this existing FDA-approved drug as a novel treatment for Alzheimer's, which is in great need of new therapies," Feixiong Cheng, PhD, director of the Cleveland Clinic GenomeCenter, who led the research, says. "We used artificial intelligence to  integrate data across multiple domains which all indicated sildenafil's potential against this devastating neurological disease.” The Wall Street Journal, in an article headlined “Viagra Could Be Good for Your Brain,” explained the use of AI: “Researchers first identified genes associated with the disease’s pathology, amyloid plaque and tau tangles in the brain. They then mapped out the molecular interplay among more than 1,600 drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration and Alzheimer’s-related proteins. After identifying 66 medications that interact with Alzheimer’s genes and pathology, they settled on sildenafil as the one with the most potential. As a next step, they analyzed insurance claims from more than seven million Americans. … [The] research shows how AI can accelerate drug discovery and identify medications that can be put to new uses. Models can map and pinpoint connections among the drugs, genes, molecules and diseases. They can also help ferret out links between diseases and the medications in health records.”

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    AI-Assisted Radiography and Rapid Molecular Tests Seen as Key in Fighting Tuberculosis. The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) is calling on countries to intensify the fight against tuberculosis, which is a preventable and curable disease, yet a leading cause of death from a single infectious agent worldwide, surpassed only by COVID-19. "It is time to redouble efforts and work toward a future where TB is no longer a public health threat, "PAHO Director Dr. Jarbas Barbosa said. “Countries in the Americas have committed to TB elimination and we have new technologies and strategies that could bring us closer to realizing this vision." Among the advancements that can help countries eliminate tuberculosis by 2030, Dr. Barbosa highlighted AI-assisted radiography for active case finding within communities, rapid molecular tests to detect the disease at the primary healthcare level, and oral and shorter treatments.

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    Barry A. Bunin, PhD, is the Founder & CEO of Collaborative Drug Discovery, which provides a modern approach to drug discovery research informatics trusted globally by thousands of leading researchers. The CDD Vault is a hosted biological and chemical database that securely manages your private and external data.

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