FOSTER CITY, Calif.—Entelos,a life sciences company specializing in the building of predictive computermodels of human physiology and "virtual patients" for drug discovery anddevelopment and product testing, completed in mid-December the development of alarge-scale computer model that simulates the induction of skin sensitization. Thiswork was done in collaboration with Unilever to guide the future development ofnew models for the safety assessment of consumer products, but in drafting thedeal, Entelos retained full rights to use the technology independently,including rights for all pharmaceutical applications—and this stands to benefitdrug discovery researchers down the line.
"Our goal is to find better ways to accurately predict theeffects of a drug or chemical on humans," says James Karis, president and CEOof Entelos. The Entelos model helps researchers visualize the pathwayscontributing to skin sensitization, he says, and allows hypotheses to berapidly tested via computer simulation. Results can then be used to inform andprioritize laboratory experiments. Preliminary analyses have already providednew information on the biology of skin sensitization and have identifiedseveral key pathways and processes for further exploration.
"The short-term opportunities for this platform can belooked at twofold," notes Mikhail Gishizky, Entelos' CSO. "One would be to lookat potential efficacy of drugs for something like psoriasis, which is similarto the skin sensitization setup already in the platform. The second would be toexamine potential adverse events of drug candidates that might cause skin-typereactions, such as rashes."
Entelos, he says, has traditionally focused on the efficacyaspects of its in silico platforms, but is pushing the ability to determineoff-target or adverse events more heavily to partners and potential partners.
But looking toward the longer-term market opportunities,Gishizky says the applications are even broader than dermatological ones, and notesthat the platform his company developed with Unilever could be modified fordrug discovery and development with regard to immune and inflammatory diseases.
Gishizky says that several pharmaceutical and consumerproducts companies have approached Entelos about using the new platform, butdeclined to say how many or for what applications specifically. "We always make sure we have a partner when we createa new platform, rather than create a platform with the hope someone will needit," he notes. "But at the same time, we develop these platforms so that wehave a certain freedom to operate and so that, as long as we don't useproprietary data from our development partner, we can set up other partnershipsfor other applications using the same platform. Our business model is not todevelop exclusive products."