Since its founding in 2016, Iktos has endeavored to take up a crucial challenge in the search for new drug candidates: moving quickly and delivering efficacy, while keeping costs to a minimum. The start-up has specialized in assisting with the design of “small molecule” drugs manufactured through chemical synthesis (with molecular weight around 500).
Iktos enters the picture in the phase following the identification of a biological target of interest for a given pathology: then, the goal is to identify molecules able to deactivate (or activate) the protein involved in the pathological mechanism.
”Our AI technologies make it possible to speed up small molecule discovery and reduce costs and failures. In so doing, they help make drugs more accessible to patients,” says Yann Gaston-Mathé, CEO of Iktos.
The Iktos AI platform makes it possible, by mining the available data, to speed up the conventional drug candidate discovery process, which consists first of all in screening libraries of molecules to identify those that are active against the target and determine their level of activity. Then, the action of these molecules is optimized and reinforced to make them selective, soluble and non-toxic to the human body. Once a candidate meeting the specifications of the research project has been identified, pre-clinical and clinical trials can begin.
Iktos has developed two AI software platforms: Makya for designing new drugs, and Spaya, for synthesis planning. “Thanks to deep learning, Iktos’ algorithms are able to come up with new molecules and test them virtually on predictive models. Depending on the results achieved, the generative model will identify what works and what does not, and will come out with better molecules,” explains Yann Gaston-Mathé, CEO of Iktos.
The partnership forged with Teijin Pharma carries three dimensions. Iktos provides the Japanese group with its technology platform, the Makya and Spaya software platforms, as well as a Python pipeline for expert users.
The start-up furthermore supports Teijin in its research programs to discover new molecules, mobilizing to this end a team made up of computational chemists, medical chemists and AI engineers. The two entities have also signed an agreement to develop new AI technologies together.With this new collaboration, Teijin Pharma is making a strategic investment in the very promising field of AI drug research. Concurrently, Iktos is expanding its international presence and laying the foundations for “a lasting partnership with a highly-renowned Japanese laboratory,” says Yann Gaston-Mathé.