AI drug discovery will power collaboration with Pharos Therapeutics

Professor Julie Cairney (left), Dr Kyu-Tae Kim from Pharos and Professor Michael
Professor Julie Cairney (left), Dr Kyu-Tae Kim from Pharos and Professor Michael Kassiou. Photo: Stefanie Zingsheim
Partnership with Pharos will give the Drug Discovery Initiative access to the Pharos Chemiverse platform, with more than 230 million pieces of data to help identify promising compounds.

The University of Sydney has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Pharos Therapeutics, the Australian subsidiary of South Korean pharmaceutical company Pharos iBio.

Together, Pharos and the University will use artificial intelligence to identify promising compounds for rapid development into treatments for cancers and rare diseases.

The MoU will provide access for the University’s Drug Discovery Initiative to Pharos iBio’s proprietary AI drug development platform, Chemiverse , Pharos will benefit from working with the University’s world-class team of researchers and state-of-the-art drug-discovery infrastructure.

Director of the Drug Discovery Initiative, Professor Michael Kassiou , said: "The process of developing drugs for treating disease is highly complex. We are incredibly excited to be working with Pharos Therapeutics, which will bring its cutting-edge artificial intelligence platform Chemiverse to this partnership.

"This platform will greatly enhance our ability to develop novel treatments for unmet medical need. Additionally, the platform’ssynergies with the Drug Discovery Initiative will boost our innovation and support new drug discovery pipelines."

Based in the School of Chemistry , the Drug Discovery Initiative is an interdisciplinary academic network that brings together the best people, technologies and tools to accelerating early-stage drug development.

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research Enterprise) Professor Julie Cairney said: "The University is committed to translating our fundamental research into real-world solutions. Our relationship with Pharos Therapeutics will help to capitalise on expertise within our Drug Discovery Initiative for the development of potentially life-saving targets for cancer and rare diseases."

Dr Kyu-Tae Kim, co-CEO of Pharos Therapeutics in Australia, said: "We are thrilled to work together with the University and the Drug Discovery Initiative to utilise cutting-edge infrastructure for the acceleration of further drug discovery."

Pharos iBio’s Chemiverse platform can be used throughout the entire process of new drug development, from target discovery to lead compound generation, by incorporating approximately 230 million pieces of big data and advanced algorithms.

Using Chemiverse, Pharos iBio is conducting continuous R&D and commercialisation of around 10 pipeline projects, including the acute myeloid leukemia treatment "PHI-101" which is currently in phase 1b clinical trials.

The Drug Discovery Initiative and its director, Professor Kassiou, are highly active in the development of new compounds and identifying pipelines for collaboration.

In March, the NSW Government funded the establishment of the NSW Organoid Innovation Centre , a multi-institution facility directed by Professor Kassiou that will apply the latest stem-cell techniques to accelerate drug discovery and design.

Earlier this year, Pharos Therapeutics joined the Sydney Knowledge Hub , a startup incubator and coworking space at the University to facilitate collaboration between industry with the Sydney research community.

Director of the Sydney Knowledge Hub, Rupal Ismin, said: "It’s wonderful to see Pharos take the next steps with the University. Translation of our fundamental research improves when our research community has direct relationships with innovative companies like Pharos Therapeutics."

Compounds developed by Professor Michael Kassiou’s drug discovery team for Kinoxis Therapeutics will be used to target oxytocin receptors with the aim of creating medicine to treat schizophrenia, depression and other neuropsychiatric illness.

Professor Michael Kassiou from the Drug Discovery Initiative will lead a new institute using stem-cell derived organoids to accelerate disease treatment.

A dynamic and interdisciplinary network that brings together the best people, technologies and tools to enable early stage drug discovery research.