Janssen recruits AI startup to develop blood cancer treatments

By Jonathan Smith

- Last updated on GMT

Janssen recruits AI startup to develop blood cancer treatments

Related tags AI Artificial intelligence blood cancer drug Oncology

The UK startup Intelligent OMICS (Intellomx) has launched a collaboration with Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical company Janssen to use artificial intelligence (AI) to discover drug targets for the treatment of blood cancer.

Intellomx’s AI platform uses a mixture of multi-omics data and deep learning to map molecular drivers of disease. As part of the deal with Janssen Research & Development, Intellomx will pool this technology with Janssen’s own data, oncology and drug development expertise.

Under the deal’s terms, Intellomx is eligible for an undisclosed upfront payment and undisclosed milestone payments based on the development of products produced in the collaboration. Janssen will also support the research costs in the collaboration.

"We are thrilled to be working with Janssen and their oncology discovery and data science experts to apply our AI platform to haematological cancers, which are among the most challenging and complex diseases to treat," said Robert Grundy, CEO of Intellomx, in a public statement. "We believe that our AI platform can generate novel insights into the molecular drivers of these cancers and identify new ways to intervene therapeutically."

In August 2023, Intellomx joined the life science startup incubator program Johnson & Johnson Innovation to kickstart its growth. In turn, Johnson & Johnson Innovation facilitated the latest collaboration with Janssen Research & Development.

Intellomx’s AI-driven drug discovery technology is designed to unearth novel disease targets and compare its results with data in published literature. The startup also uses a so-called Digital Twin, a concept borrowed from engineering, to predict the off-target effects of drug candidates on different organs in the human body.

“For someone like Rolls Royce, this refers to the practice of developing a simulation model of an engine or turbine that can be ‘tested’ in silico rather than in the air,” stated Intellomx CSO Graham Ball in a corporate presentation​. “For us, the development of a Digital Twin gives us the opportunity to test drugs in development in a human model without risk, giving a clear indication of likely toxicity effects.”

In addition to blood cancer, Intellomx is researching treatments for other types of cancer such as lung and prostate cancer. The company also has a pipeline of projects to treat chronic conditions including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and autoimmune conditions.

There are many startups aiming to use AI in the search for novel small molecule drugs, with Exscientia and BenevolentAI being some of the most established examples.

Exscientia entered its sixth AI-designed drug candidate into clinical testing earlier this year​ in collaboration with Sunitomo Pharma. BenevolentAI, meanwhile, announced mixed results​ in a phase 2a study of a treatment for atopic dermatitis and launched a phase 1 trial of a treatment for ulcerative colitis.

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