Policy & Regulation
Iktos, Facio Therapies Forge Collaboration to Use AI for FSHD Drug Design
12 May 2021 - - France-based Iktos, a company specialized in artificial intelligence for new drug design, and Netherlands-based Facio Therapies, a drug discovery and development company focused on developing treatments for facioscapulohumeral dystrophy, are entering a collaboration to apply Iktos's generative modelling artificial intelligence technology in one of Facio's drug discovery programs, the companies said.

Under the agreement, Iktos will apply its de novo ligand and structure-based generative modelling technologies and know-how, complementing Facio's drug discovery capabilities, to expedite the identification of potential pre-clinical candidates and to identify additional novel chemical matter with suitable properties.

Founded by people affected by FSHD, Facio is laser-focused on developing a therapy for this progressive and disabling muscle disorder.

To maximize the chances of success of achieving this ambition, Facio is developing a Focused Portfolio Strategy, bringing together technology platforms and expertise in a global network of excellence.

Iktos's AI technology, based on deep generative models, helps to bring new insights and directions into the drug discovery process based on a comprehensive data-driven structure generation technology.

This technology automatically designs virtual novel molecules with all of the characteristics of a successful drug molecule.

This approach, validated through Iktos's other collaborations, is a novel solution to one of the key challenges in drug design: rapid identification of molecules that simultaneously satisfy multiple parameters, such as potency, selectivity, safety, and additional project-specific properties.

This approach uniquely enables the exploration of chemical space and produces innovative molecule designs with greater freedom to operate.

FSHD (facioscapulohumeral dystrophy) is a skeletal muscle wasting disease that affects the lives of over 800,000 people worldwide and those close to them.

The loss of muscle strength has a huge impact on daily life. Living with FSHD means living with pain, fatigue, and social isolation. Above all, the future becomes uncertain because the course of the disease is unpredictable.

About 20% of people with FSHD end up in a wheelchair. Currently, no approved therapy for FSHD is available other than forms of temporary symptomatic relief.

Inc. in October 2016, Iktos is a French start-up company specialized in the development of artificial intelligence solutions applied to chemical research, more specifically medicinal chemistry and new drug design.

Iktos is developing a proprietary and innovative solution based on deep learning generative models, which enables, using existing data, to design molecules that are optimized in silico to meet all the success criteria of a small molecule discovery project.

The use of Iktos technology enables major productivity gains in upstream pharmaceutical R and D. Iktos offers its technology both as professional services and as a SaaS software platform, Makya.

Iktos is also developing Spaya, a synthesis planning software based upon Iktos's proprietary AI technology for retrosynthesis.

Established in 2014 by people living with FSHD, Facio Therapies laser-focuses on developing a therapy for this devastating muscle disease. To maximize the chance of success, Facio does not bet on a single technology platform but concurrently creates multiple innovative technologies.

This unique Focused Portfolio Strategy works by leveraging a strong network of collaborations bringing together best-in-class technologies, managed by a small and nimble team of experienced experts.

Since inception, Facio has raised close to EUR 28m in equity funding from FSHD-affected families, their friends, FSHD foundations, and Facio's drug discovery partner, Evotec.

Facio has been founded by business leaders from the FSHD community Kees van der Graaf (Netherlands), Neil Camarta (Canada), and Bill Moss (Australia).
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