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Insilico Medicine Announces Novel 3CL Protease Inhibitor Preclinical Candidate for COVID-19 Treatment

  • Insilico’s candidate demonstrated a favorable profile with good in vivo efficacy at low doses, efficient synthesis, and no need for co-administration with Ritonavir.
  • The candidate is intended to be used for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, along with other coronaviruses. Insilico’s candidate has a novel structure that can be synthesized efficiently, designed by its propriety AI-driven small molecule generation platform, Chemistry42.

Insilico Medicine, a clinical-stage end-to-end artificial intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery company, announced its nomination of a novel preclinical candidate (PCC) targeting 3C-like (3CL) protease for the treatment of COVID-19.

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Insilico’s PCC is an orally available 3CL protease inhibitor with a novel structure generated using Insilico’s AI platform. The compound can be efficiently prepared with a two-step synthesis from commercial starting materials. In preclinical studies, it demonstrated a favorable profile with good in vivo efficacy at low doses and its observed efficacy is independent of co-administration with CYP3A4/Pgp inhibitor (e.g. Ritonavir). It also showed broad-spectrum antiviral activities, not only for SARS-CoV-2 and its variants, but also for other types of coronaviruses that cause diseases including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).

“This molecule designed by AI has distinct pharmacophores from existing 3CL protease inhibitors and binds to the target protein in a unique, irreversible, covalent binding mode as demonstrated by a co-crystal structure,” said Feng Ren, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Insilico Medicine. “We are committed to progress the molecule as fast as possible into clinical trials evaluating its usage in COVID-19 treatment.”

Insilico initially trained its end-to-end AI platform to combat the pandemic early in the outbreak based on knowledge of the virus’ structure and properties developed from the SARS outbreak in 2003. Empowered by its AI platform, the company narrowed and identified the 3CL target in early 2020 and then published its first set of novel compound structures designed using its small molecule generation platform Chemistry42 in February 2020.

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“The COVID-19 pandemic brought global attention to the pressing need for rapid drug development,” said Alex Zhavoronkov, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine. “We made an executive decision to start our COVID-19 program early. We were mobilized along with the rest of the scientific community and were able to demonstrate how powerful AI tools can be in the fight against the disease.”

The epidemic caused by the Novel Coronavirus has had a significant impact on human health and economic development and has brought severe challenges to global public health security. Insilico’s R&D team has initiated investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies for the PCC to accelerate its progression to a clinical asset.

Since 2021, Insilico has nominated 7 preclinical candidates discovered and designed using its AI platform in a variety of disease areas, including fibrosis, inflammation, and cancer. It also successfully completed a Phase 0 microdose trial and entered a Phase I clinical trial with its first internally developed program for fibrosis.

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