Intellegens, a company applying machine learning to accelerate innovation in medical R&D, has secured a £1.6 million grant from Innovate UK which could improve treatment of a range of diseases.

It will be used to apply ML in the emerging field of oligonucleotide therapies, which offer high specificity with the ability to treat an extremely broad range of diseases.

Oligonucleotides represent a promising therapeutic option in pharmaceutical research. However, their full potential is yet to be realised, as manufacturing knowledge and experience are limited outside a small number of specialist companies. 

Therapeutic oligonucleotides are large, complex molecules, requiring a multi-stage synthetic process alongside significant purification and analysis steps. The workflow presents many challenges, Intellegens says, constraining manufacturing productivity.

In collaboration with the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), the two-year project will augment and validate the company’s ML technology, Alchemite, as a tool to enhance productivity and yields of oligonucleotide therapeutic manufacture through performance prediction and optimisation of quality control strategies.

Expert support for the project is being provided with direct input from six leading research organisations, including top 10 pharma companies, such as Novartis and specialist biotech companies, such as Silence Therapeutics. 

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“The potential of oligonucleotide therapeutics to treat a vast spectrum of diseases is an exciting prospect that is unfortunately held back by manufacturing capabilities,” said Ben Pellegrini, CEO, Intellegens. 

“We are extremely pleased to announce this Innovate UK funded collaborative project with CPI and experts from across the life sciences to apply Alchemite to improve manufacturing productivity of these next-generation therapeutics.”

Dave Tudor, managing director of pharmaceuticals at CPI, said: “We are really excited to be working with Intellegens on this project to help harness the potential of oligonucleotides to treat a variety of conditions. 

“Oligonucleotides are complex molecules and the process of bringing them to market is costly, meaning very few companies are able to harness this potentially life-saving and life-changing technology. 

“Through CPI’s Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, we will look to bring together a community of experts from the pharmaceutical and technology companies to support the development of the Alchemite tools, reducing development times and improving manufacturability of oligonucleotide therapeutics.”

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