Novo begins R&D tie-up with AI biotech e-Therapeutics

Danish pharma company Novo Nordisk

Novo Nordisk has signed a deal with UK biotech e-Therapeutics to use its AI-based drug discovery technology to find new therapies for type 2 diabetes.

e-Therapeutics will work with Novo for a year and use its technology to identify novel intervention strategies, biological pathways and compounds that could form the basis of new therapies.

The UK biotech will be reimbursed for its work in the collaboration and has the option to license any intellectual property generated.

Any future licence will require mutual agreement of commercial terms and no other financial details were disclosed.

e-Therapeutics uses a suite of powerful computational tools to augment and interrogate the vast amount of biological information currently available in both public and private databases.

Using techniques such as machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and state of the art data analysis, e-Therapeutics creates and analyses network models of disease to identify likely proteins that could be disrupted to treat diseases.

The company said this approach more realistically reflects the true complexity of disease with its multiple and often interconnected cellular pathways.

Novo Nordisk already has a research centre in Oxford, where visiting researchers are working with Oxford University academics to advance development of therapies for type 2 diabetes.

Dr Ray Barlow, CEO at e-Therapeutics, said: “This collaboration highlights the use of our network-driven drug discovery platform to understand and potentially create new treatments for complex diseases of great relevance to society, medicine and the industry.

“Our new collaboration with Novo Nordisk is the result of a systematic and rigorous business development exercise over the past year and we hope to announce a number of additional collaborations during the course of 2019.”

Jan Nygaard Jensen, deputy head of Novo Nordisk Research Centre Oxford and head of bioinformatics, said: “We are looking forward to cooperating with e-Therapeutics. It is an exciting technology and we will investigate if it can support some of the early target discovery efforts we are building in the Novo Nordisk Research Centre in Oxford.”