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Healx partners with the ICR to develop potential new AI-derived treatments for rare childhood cancer, DIPG

3 October 2019   |  
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We are delighted to announce a collaboration with scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research, London (ICR) to discover new possible ways of treating diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG), a life-limiting childhood brain cancer for which no treatments currently exist.

The ICR is an internationally-renowned research centre in the study of childhood cancers, including in DIPG, and we look forward to working closely with the ICR’s Professor Chris Jones – a world-leading figure in the study of DIPG – to progress a number of potential new treatment options for this rare cancer.

To identify these possible new treatments, we used our AI-powered drug discovery platform, Healnet, which features the world’s most comprehensive knowledge graph of rare disease data. 

Our Healnet technology works by mining proprietary and public data from scientific literature, clinical trials and patents – amongst other sources. This unique knowledge graph of rare disease data is then interrogated by our AI algorithms and team of pharmacology experts to identify the most promising treatments for a given disease.

By combining the latest in AI and machine learning techniques with critical insight from our in-house team of pharmacologists and drug discovery experts, we have been able to predict which existing drugs, already used in other diseases, might be repurposed to treat DIPG.

Professor Jones is now planning to research these drugs in the laboratory to work out if they could be used as treatments.

This innovative, AI-based approach has previously been used, in partnership with childhood cancer charity, aPODD, to successfully identify potential new treatments for rare cancers. 

Outside of the rare cancer space we have also had success using our technology to predict and progress new treatments for fragile X syndrome towards Phase 2A clinical trial phase within just 24 months. 

We are optimistic that, in combining our technological capabilities with the ICR’s expertise in the field of cancer research, this collaboration will lead to the development of effective, new treatments that will positively impact the lives of the 150-300 patients who are diagnosed with this severely life-limiting condition each year in the USA alone. 

Dr Neil Thompson, Chief Scientific Officer at Healx, said:

“I am excited to be collaborating with the ICR, one of the world’s leading cancer research organisations. The expertise that Dr Chris Jones and his team bring to childhood brain cancers, and DIPG in particular, is invaluable to an organisation looking to help patients with this rare disease.

We hope that by combining this with our ground-breaking AI technology, pharmacology expertise and comprehensive rare disease knowledge graph, we can accelerate the discovery and development of new treatments for this devastating disease.”

Professor Chris Jones, Professor of Paediatric Brain Tumour Biology at the ICR, said:

“We’re very pleased to be partnering with Healx in the development of potential new treatments for DIPG, a rare childhood cancer with an average life expectancy of just nine months. We welcome Healx to a community of researchers, partners, donors and families who are determined to find new ways of treating this devastating disease.”

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