An AI-powered drug discovery firm is partnering with Ono Pharmaceutical, one of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical companies and a global leader in the field of R&D-orientated drug discovery.  

Healx, based in Cambridge, has built a suite of frontier technologies to rapidly identify and progress new therapies for some of the 95% of rare diseases currently without an approved treatment. 

The collaboration will leverage Healx’s innovative indication expansion technology to identify new disease indications with high unmet needs that could be treated by Ono’s proprietary assets.

At the core of Healx’s technological capabilities is the AI drug discovery platform, Healnet. Healnet integrates data from multiple sources – including biomedical research, patient insight, scientific literature and curated proprietary information – to form the world’s most detailed rare disease biomedical knowledge graph.  

This graph is analysed by Healx’s cutting-edge AI methods to pinpoint non-obvious disease-compound relationships with the highest probability of success. Critically, these models are trained to discover novel disease biology and modes of action, without being limited to a single biological target.  

Under the terms of the partnership agreement, Healx will deploy Healnet to find multiple new therapeutic indications for Ono’s proprietary assets.  

Healx will also utilise its considerable drug discovery and development expertise to provide Ono with a clear rationale for the predictions as well as a roadmap for preclinical validation of the assets. Ono will then select diseases from Healx’s therapeutic recommendations and progress them towards further validation studies.  

This research collaboration will expand the precision medicine and drug discovery capabilities of Healx by increasing Healnet’s coverage of common disease signatures and enhancing the power and reach of its treatment predictions for conditions with high unmet medical needs.  

Beyond this partnership, Healx will continue to apply this cutting-edge technology to further expand its own portfolio, extend the number of diseases it can work on and scale the number of rare disease patients it can positively impact across the globe.

“It is a great privilege to work with a renowned drug discovery company like Ono – especially as they share our mission to bring new, effective treatments to patients in need,” said Healx CEO Dr Tim Guilliams.  

“We are excited to deploy our technology to expand the number of diseases Ono’s assets can impact and, ultimately, provide novel treatments to patients around the world.  

“We strongly believe in the power of our next-generation AI platform to deliver disease indication predictions with unprecedented speed, scale and accuracy, and we look forward to having more to share in the coming months.” 

Toichi Takino, Senior Executive Officer and Executive Director of Discovery & Research at Ono Pharmaceutical Co., said: “We extremely appreciate Healx’s AI technology, Healnet, for discovering new therapies that meet unmet medical needs in rare diseases.  

“By combining the profiling data of new drug candidates and Healx’s AI technology, we expect to increase the efficiency of finding clinical indications with high prediction accuracy and identifying new drug candidates.”