Toronto-based biotechnology company Cyclica has partnered with global biotechnology platform ATAI Life Sciences to develop drugs for mental health disorders, using artificial intelligence to design new compounds inspired by positive psychedelic properties.
“Our vision is to spark a new era of drug discovery centred on a robust computation-centric approach.”
Through the joint venture, the two organizations launched Delaware-based Entheogenix Biosciences, aiming to use Cyclica’s technology to address unmet medical needs in mental healthcare, such as those involving depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. The companies said current therapies for complex mental disorders that involve multiple pathogenic factors often fall short when relying on single-targeted drug interventions.
“Our vision is to spark a new era of drug discovery centred on a robust computation-centric approach,” said Cyclica CEO and president Naheed Kurji. “We are especially passionate about advancing health outcomes for patients suffering with the most complex and prevalent disorders like depression, which is the leading cause of disability worldwide. We are thrilled to partner with the world-class team at ATAI on this paradigm-shifting venture.”
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Cyclica’s AI-augmented end-to-end drug discovery platforms, Ligand Design and Ligand Express, will be used to design advanced lead-like molecules with the preferred properties, while providing a holistic understanding of a molecule’s activity. This is said to allow researchers to visualize the complete profile of a compound and tailor drugs to target specific disease pathways related to mental health, while minimizing unwanted off-target effects.
“Entheogenix will use state-of-the-art technology to identify the most promising candidates for drug development quickly and precisely,” said CEO of ATAI Life Sciences Florian Brand.
The companies expect the venture to lead to medications that offer the presumed benefits of the psychedelic for depression, but with enhanced properties such as faster drug release and absorption or the absence of the hallucinogenic effects common to psychedelics.