Cloud collaboration yields fruit

A multi-institution team devises new prodrug, points to PLA2 as an IBD target

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE, N.C.—Cloud Pharmaceuticals, a cloud-based, computational drug design and development company, has announced its latest collaborative drug design success. The company has worked with scientists at the University of Florida and Israel’s Ben-Gurion University of the Negev to devise a new active prodrug for treatment of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (also known as inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD).
The collaboration found that PLA2, a membrane protein associated with intercellular trafficking, showed exploitation potential in IBD patients for significant therapeutic effect. The research was the latest in Cloud Pharmaceuticals’ ongoing partnerships that harness the power of their Quantum Molecular Design technology to achieve successful drug therapies outside a traditional wet chemistry lab environment.
The company’s novel Quantum Molecular Design process enables a more efficient search of chemical space by using reverse-engineering methods to solve the problem of going from a set of desired properties back to realistic chemical structures and material morphologies that may have these properties.
Quantum Molecular Design was originally developed in the Chemistry department at Duke University and has been further developed by Cloud Pharmaceuticals to discover novel, never-before synthesized drug candidates, using computers instead of wet chemistry. The Duke University team developed the linear combination of atomic potentials (LCAP) approach, using molecular characteristics as a function of parameters that define the contribution of a specific chemical group at a particular chemical site in a molecule. Enabling the development of a shareable database allowed collaborators to utilize multiple search methods and facilitate significant comparison, and Cloud Pharmaceuticals added an integer programming method that enhanced the algorithm for increased benefits within computational drug design. It is the first company to take full advantage of Moore’s Law in the cloud and apply artificial intelligence to computational chemistry to achieve high-accuracy designs.
“We are pleased to provide our chemistry software to find solutions for the world’s neglected diseases,” said Ed Addison, CEO of Cloud Pharmaceuticals.
According to the company, the ability to reasonably determine binding affinities between a protein and a small molecule is the key to hypothesizing and designing new drugs. Their cloud-based process runs computational models to quickly review virtual chemical libraries to find the strongest inhibitors of a specific biological target and “identifies novel drug candidates that feature good clinical trial properties and demonstrate low probability of toxic side effects. This process is ideal for universities seeking to identify leads for novel targets, as well as biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies that are developing new drugs,” as noted by Cloud Pharmaceuticals.
Several innovators have chosen the company as their Contract Manufacturing Organization partner because of its advanced technologies. Genomeon utilizes Cloud’s Quantum Molecular Design in its search for companion biomarkers, and they were selected by the Quantum Cures Foundation and THERAMetrics in order to facilitate cost-effective research on treatments for rare, orphaned and neglected diseases.
“We chose Cloud Pharmaceuticals because there was no other computational solution that could design high-efficacy, low-toxicity drugs with a high probability of success in a short period of time,” said Dr. Shelby Neal, co-founder of Quantum Cures Foundation.
According to Cloud Pharmaceuticals, their Quantum Molecular Design process dramatically improves upon traditional drug discovery and design methods.
“This proprietary process combined with cloud computing and strong relationships with partners across industry and academia forms a single platform that enables the rapid and accurate discovery, design and development of new therapeutics to improve human health and well-being,” says Addison.
In this latest collaboration with University of Florida and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, the computational models allowed them to accurately predict activation of beneficial drug conjugates by PLA2.
Dr. Shahar Keinan, Cloud Pharmaceuticals’ chief scientific officer, said: “We are very excited for developing and implementing this new computational capability, adding the development of prodrugs to our current offering. This capability improves the speed and lowers the cost of designing novel drugs that are acutely needed to help patients with inflammatory bowel disease.”

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