Country for PR: United Kingdom
Contributor: PR Newswire Europe
Friday, December 07 2018 - 00:29
AsiaNet
Merck in Agreement With Cyclica for AI-augmented Screening Platform to Expand Research Capabilities
DARMSTADT, Germany, Dec. 7, 2018 /PRNewswire-AsiaNet/ --

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    - Agreement to screen discovery and early development compounds using 
artificial intelligence and computational biophysics
     - Cloud-based in silico platform that screens small molecules to determine 
polypharmacological profiles
     - Evaluation to include identification of potential mechanisms of action 
for investigational small molecules 

    Merck, a leading science and technology company, today announced that it 
has entered into a licensing agreement with Cyclica Inc. for the use of Ligand 
Express(R), a cloud-based in silico proteome screening platform. Ligand 
Express(R) is a structure-based and artificial intelligence (AI) augmented 
proteome screening platform that is being used to uncover novel targets that 
are modelled to interact with a small molecule. This year-long agreement will 
enable Merck to quickly and efficiently elucidate mechanisms of action, 
evaluate safety profiles and explore additional applications for a number of 
its investigational small molecules, including those identified in highly 
disease-relevant phenotypic screens.

    "With scientific curiosity at the heart of everything we do, the pursuit of 
state-of-the-art research techniques and technologies is integral to complement 
our internal discovery engine," said Belen Garijo, Member of the Executive 
Board and CEO Healthcare, Merck. "Artificial intelligence has the power to make 
the previously unimaginable a reality - we are eager to harness these new 
possibilities to help drive the discoveries that can transform the lives of 
people affected by difficult-to-treat diseases."

    "A key part of our R&D strategy is to progress highly promising compounds 
as efficiently and rapidly as possible," added Friedrich Rippmann, Director of 
Computational Chemistry & Biology at Merck. "Assessing new technologies is 
central to how we will advance our discovery programs, and artificial 
intelligence applications like Ligand Express(R) will provide important 
insights to enhance how we think about target identification to support 
phenotypic screening and off-target profiling in general."

    "Current experimental protein screening approaches can take up to a year, 
making it virtually impossible to do this for multiple compounds. We see this 
as a specific opportunity for cloud-based and AI-augmented technologies to 
drive drug discovery more efficiently," commented Naheed Kurji, President and 
CEO of Cyclica. "We are thrilled that Merck will be leveraging the power of our 
Ligand Express(R) platform to drive their identification of novel targets."

    Traditional development of small molecule therapies focuses on specific, 
disease-associated protein targets. However, once a drug enters the body, it 
interacts with dozens, if not hundreds, of proteins before it is eliminated 
from the body. With Ligand Express(R), it is possible to capture a unique 
panoramic view of the proteome for a given small molecule. As the technology 
can model the ways in which a small molecule will interact with all proteins 
(of known structure), it can help identify both 'on-targets' (interactions that 
may have a desirable effect on a certain disease), as well as 'off-targets' 
(interactions that may cause an adverse effect).

    Merck is committed to embracing innovative technologies to help bring a 
transformational change to patients. This includes those developed by partners 
who share a similar passion for discovery and advancing human progress.

    All Merck Press Releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they 
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    About Merck Merck, the vibrant science and technology company, operates 
across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 51,000 
employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people's lives 
every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing 
gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most 
challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices - Merck is 
everywhere. In 2017, Merck generated sales of EUR 15.3 billion in 66 countries.

    Scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to 
Merck's technological and scientific advances. This is how Merck has thrived 
since its founding in 1668. The founding family remains the majority owner of 
the publicly listed company. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name 
and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the 
business sectors of Merck operate as EMD Serono in healthcare,  MilliporeSigma 
in life science, and EMD Performance Materials.

    About Cyclica Cyclica is a Toronto-based biotechnology company that is 
driving drug discovery by empowering scientists in pharma with an integrated 
cloud-based and AI-augmented platform that enhances how they design, screen and 
personalize medicines. To learn more, visit www.cyclicarx.com .

    Your Contact gangolf.schrimpf@merckgroup.com Phone: +49 6151 72-9591
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Source:  Merck