PostEra, a biotechnology company specializing in machine learning for preclinical drug discovery, announced a multi-year collaboration with the National Institutes of Health to develop small molecule antiviral therapeutics to prevent pandemics. The center will receive initial funding of $68M. PostEra co-leads this initiative with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, a global charity with expertise in drug development for global equitable access, and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
As part of the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Antiviral Program for Pandemics, the AI-driven Structure-Enabled Antiviral Platform (ASAP) consortium aims to discover dozens of lead compounds against key viruses of significant pandemic concern, such as flaviviruses (responsible for endemic diseases such as Dengue and Zika), picornaviruses (including potentially debilitating enteroviruses as well as other cold-causing viruses), and coronaviruses. ASAP will further deliver three IND-ready candidates which can be immediately ready for clinical evaluation in the event of a viral outbreak, so that future pandemics can be halted before severe outbreaks occur. The consortium is committed to making resulting antivirals globally and equitably accessible, so that no patient population is left behind.
ASAP will use PostEra's end-to-end AI-first approach to accelerate the discovery process, generating molecules with optimised properties, designing rapid synthesis, and optimally prioritising experiments. In particular, AI approaches are tightly integrated into structural biology to realize next generation structure-based design. ASAP is built on the success of the COVID Moonshot project, a global open-science AI-driven initiative that began in March 2020 and rapidly identified antiviral drug candidates that target the main protease of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
"We are honored to be co-leading this consortium. We believe that our AI platform will accelerate the discovery of therapeutics that will prevent pandemics."
Dr Alpha Lee, Chief Scientific Officer of PostEra, who co-founded COVID Moonshot
PostEra was founded in 2019 and its technology is built on pioneering academic research done by its founding scientists. PostEra's technology addresses some of the key challenges in drug discovery R&D by integrating molecular design with chemical synthesis. PostEra advances small molecule programs through partnerships with biopharma, working on its own internal pipeline, and also offering some of its synthesis technology via its Manifold web platform. PostEra also helped launch the world's largest open-science drug discovery effort; COVID Moonshot, along with an NIH-funded antiviral research center for the prevention of future pandemics.