British company Healx, who use Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to identify and develop drugs and treatments for over 7,000 rare diseases, has teamed up with Ono. Ono is one of Japan’s largest pharmaceutical companies and a global leader in the field of R&D-orientated drug discovery. The innovative technology, called Healnet, works by predicting starting points for drug discovery programmes for existing drugs that they can redevelop. It also claims to be able to jig combinations that give better benefits to patients and can make molecular changes to existing drugs. All this helps to identify new treatments for patients with rare diseases very quickly.
The new partnership will help Healx to access drugs that are unheard of in the UK and is set to make a big impact for the 3.5 million Britons in need of help.
Dr Neil Thompson, Chief Scientific Officer at Healx, is leading the work.
He told Express.co.uk: “We are addressing an unmet need in rare diseases historically not met by the industry that we are now targeting with our technologies to drive a new approach in drug discovery that makes it effective and fast.
“There’s a lot of innovation in the use of AI and healthcare in the UK, it is really strong in this area and having Ono coming to invest in a British company is an indication of that.
“This deal can only be good for the UK and this is something that in the future could unlock a lot of possibilities.”
Healx’s CEO, Dr Tim Guilliams, said: “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.
“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.”
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Commenting on the partnership, Toichi Takino, Member of the Board and Senior Executive Officer at Ono, 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.”
One in 17 people will be affected by a rare disease at some point in their lives.
This amounts to 3.5 million people in the UK and 30 million people across Europe (1).
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The majority of rare diseases currently have no effective treatment. Often rare diseases are chronic and life-threatening.
On average, it takes over four years to receive an accurate diagnosis of a rare disease, this new breakthrough will help speed up the treatment process.
The company is now hoping to strike a deal with the NHS.
But it comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson vowed to make the UK a “science superpower” after Brexit.
In his New Year message, Mr Johnson said he wanted the UK to pioneer developments in biosciences, AI and and wind power technology, to create millions of high-skilled jobs.
He said: “This is an amazing moment for this country.
“We have our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it.”