OXFORD, U.K.—Arctoris Ltd. recently revealed a formal partnership with Molecule, which is meant to tackle an ongoing innovation crisis faced by drug discovery and development across both industry and academia.
The pharmaceutical industry is dealing with a wide variety of issues, Arctoris notes, such as declining drug discovery rates and increasing costs of bringing a drug to market. The return of investment on research and development could hit 0 percent in the next few years. Ultimately, these factors combine to directly impact the number and types of therapeutics being brought to market.
“Drug discovery researchers worldwide face enormous challenges posed by a widespread lack of reproducibility and the limited availability of standardized, structured, high-quality data,” said Dr. Martin-Immanuel Bittner, co-founder and CEO of Arctoris. “By partnering with Molecule, we intend to make drug discovery and development more democratic, collaborative and efficient in the interest of bringing higher-quality therapeutics to patients faster through the combination of robotics, AI and a distributed research platform.”
“The two companies met at the Aging, AI & Drug Discovery Forum in Basel, Switzerland, in September 2019, and started exploring options for collaboration soon after. Both companies share the realization that the drug discovery ecosystem is under huge pressure—we are entering the era of precision medicine, i.e. the end of the one-size-fits-all approach for therapeutics,” Bittner tells DDNews. “Instead of developing one blockbuster drug, our increasing understanding of patient subgroups means we need to develop a much larger number of drugs to treat very specific mutations or conditions in a targeted way. This poses great challenges for the whole industry, compounded by rising costs and the widespread lack of reproducibility of research findings.”
Arctoris, through its fully automated drug discovery platform, enables researchers and biotechnological entrepreneurs to design and remotely execute advanced cell-based molecular biology and biochemical assays. This technology, together with Molecule’s distributed intellectual property (IP) ownership platform, helps stakeholders in drug development to collaborate and share ownership of the IP they are working to develop—theoretically making drug discovery and development faster, cheaper, less risk-prone and more viable at all levels.
“The partnership between Molecule and Arctoris brings together two highly complementary platforms: one for the generation of highest-quality drug discovery data, and one for the sourcing and ownership of a pipeline of drug discovery assets. Together, Molecule and Arctoris can build a portfolio of high-value, curated assets in an ecosystem where academics as well as pharma companies can get involved from day one,” Bittner states. “This collaboration will benefit all actors involved in the drug discovery process: academics will benefit from a platform to fund and progress their drug discovery project, funders will benefit from greater transparency and efficiency, pharma companies will benefit from access to curated assets, and patients will benefit from better drugs reaching them faster.”
Arctoris has a fully automated research facility based in Oxford, England, where robotics perform a range of the most frequent drug discovery assays for researchers all over the world. The company offers a complete system to generate, analyze and visualize research data in a secure cloud environment, providing the benefits of robotic experimentation and full transparency, precision, and consistency in preclinical research and development.
“Molecule and Arctoris expect to launch a first proof-of-concept use case in the next three to six months leveraging the combined technologies,” explains Bittner. “We are currently evaluating projects that would be appropriate for this use case.”
Arctoris and Molecule plan to combine their technologies to create a modular pipeline for distributed therapeutics development in the longevity space and adjacent fields—a pipeline in which the companies will involve universities, patient advocacy groups, and pharmaceutical and biotechnological companies, as well as investors. Shares in intellectual property or direct funding will be provided to stakeholders who participate in the development of therapeutics.
“We see a lot of change in the drug discovery space, with new players and new paradigms emerging. Our shared vision is to build entirely novel ways of funding and pursuing the development of therapeutics, particularly in their earlier stages of development. We believe that in a few years, we are going to see a very different drug discovery ecosystem where technology and biology unite, and this partnership is at the forefront of this paradigm shift,” Bittner concludes.