Pharma Focus America

Italfarmaco Partners with Iktos to Advance Drug Discovery Through Artificial Intelligence

Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Italfarmaco SpA (ITF), a global pharmaceutical leader, and Iktos, a company specializing in artificial intelligence for drug development, have formed a partnership to create next-generation HDAC inhibitors aimed at treating a range of non-cancerous diseases, including those impacting the central nervous system.

The collaboration will employ Iktos's advanced Makya™ platform, which combines both ligand- and structure-based approaches, to develop new molecules that meet ITF's candidate drug target profile (CDTP). This methodology facilitates thorough exploration of chemical space and the development of innovative molecules that interact effectively within the target’s binding site, while also being synthetically viable, thanks to Iktos’s Spaya™ platform for retrosynthesis.

"Drug discovery is inherently complex, time-consuming, and risky," stated Christian Steinkühler, Group Chief Scientific Officer at Italfarmaco. “With millions waiting for new treatments, AI technologies can significantly speed up the process of identifying potential HDAC drug candidates, allowing them to advance to clinical trials more efficiently and with reduced resource requirements. ITF will leverage its experience in epigenetics and HDAC inhibitors, combined with Iktos's expertise in AI, to identify promising drug candidates.”

Iktos, remarked, "We are excited about our collaboration with ITF. At Iktos, we are committed to advancing technologies that increase the success rate in small molecule discovery. Our objective is to expedite drug discovery through the use of our sophisticated algorithmic technologies and the extensive experience we have gained from numerous successful partnerships.”

Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are enzymes that play a critical role in regulating various biological processes, such as gene expression, cell cycle progression, and apoptosis. Inhibitors targeting HDACs have shown promising therapeutic potential, particularly in cancer treatment.

Italfarmaco has developed Givinostat, an HDAC inhibitor intended for non-cancerous indications, specifically for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Givinostat helps to normalize the abnormal activity of HDACs in dystrophic muscle, a significant issue due to the lack of dystrophin in DMD patients. Givinostat has received full FDA approval for DMD, and the Marketing Authorization Application (MAA) for Givinostat has been submitted to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).



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