AI specialist Intelligent Omics bags J&J deal

Intelligent Omics' Dr Rob Grundy

Dr Robert Grundy, Intelligent Omics' CEO

UK artificial intelligence (AI) specialist Intelligent Omics has entered into a research collaboration with Johnson & Johnson, within weeks of joining the big pharma's JLABS incubation programme.

The Nottingham-based start-up has developed a proprietary AI platform designed to seek out new biological targets based on the use of artificial neural networks (AANs) that can evaluate tens of millions of data points in a short period of time. It uses machine learning to extract insights from transcriptomic data sets from diseased tissue.

The AI is geared towards discovering new drugs for old diseases, identifying existing drugs for new targets, and finding diagnostics that can be used to stratify patient populations, and has already been deployed by Intelligent Omics initially to find new KRAS-targeting drugs for cancer and respiratory diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The new alliance with J&J's Janssen Pharma unit is focused on finding new targets for the treatment of haematological cancers, a key growth area for J&J, as it builds on blockbuster drugs like Darzalex (daratumumab) and Imbruvica (ibrutinib) with a new generation of therapies headed by bispecific antibodies and CAR-Ts.

It is the first major collaboration for Intelligent Omics, formerly known as CompanDX, which spun out of Nottingham Trent University.

According to the partners, it will deploy the UK company's omics data and deep learning algorithms to uncover novel disease mechanisms and therapeutic opportunities, combined with Janssen's expertise in data science and oncology R&D.

The alliance is another example of the benefits of J&J's JLABS network, a network of 'no strings attached' incubators that gives the drugmaker a front seat to see and assess new drug discovery projects and technologies as they emerge.

"We are thrilled to be working with Janssen and their oncology discovery and data science experts to apply our AI platform to haematological cancers, which are among the most challenging and complex diseases to treat," said Dr Robert Grundy, Intelligent Omics' chief executive.

"We believe that our AI platform can generate novel insights into the molecular drivers of these cancers and identify new ways to intervene therapeutically," he added.

Under the terms of the agreement, the UK company will receive an upfront payment and research support from Janssen, as well as potential milestone payments based on the successful development of products resulting from the collaboration. Further details have not been disclosed.