Algorae Pharmaceuticals and UNSW join CSIRO’s Next Generation graduate program

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By Imelda Cotton - 
Algorae Pharmaceuticals ASX 1AI UNSW CSIRO Next Generation graduate program Artificial Intelligence

Biotechnology company Algorae Pharmaceuticals (ASX: 1AI) and the University of NSW (UNSW) have agreed to become industry participants in the Next Generation graduate program established by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Under the agreement, UNSW will recruit three doctorate candidates for a three-year scholarship which will aim to advance the development of Algorae’s artificial intelligence (AI) operating system (AlgoraeOS).

The candidates will form part of the AlgoraeOS research and development team and will be co-funded by CSIRO (66%) and Algorae (33%).

The team will be supervised and managed by Algorae lead investigator and AI expert, associate professor Fatemeh Vafaee and other post-doctoral operating officers.

AlgoraeOS agreement

Earlier this month, Algorae and UNSW entered into an agreement to develop the AlgoraeOS platform which builds on a sophisticated AI model trained for pharmaceutical prediction that has been developed by specialists within the UNSW Data Science Hub.

In collaboration with UNSW, Algorae intends to expand and refine the model for its own purposes, which includes generating novel drug candidates for clinical investigation.

Graduate program

The Next Generation program delivers partnerships with industry and universities to grow a pipeline of home-grown, job-ready graduates who are able to advance the opportunities offered by AI and emerging technologies such as robotics, cyber security, quantum computing and blockchain.

Doctorate candidates work directly on research activities aligned to specific projects brought forward by participating companies, which co-fund and provide placement activities.

CSIRO provides foundation training and opportunities for the candidates to come together and work on related activities that tackle real-world challenges.

AI potential

Algorae said the use of AI in drug discovery and development has the potential to revolutionise the pharmaceutical landscape.

AI algorithms analyse complex statistics such as clinical and biological data, molecular structures and genetic information, enabling rapid identification of drug targets with higher precision and efficiency.

Machine learning, deep learning and neural network models can enable the prediction of drug interactions, assess toxicity and optimise compound designs, guiding researchers towards more promising avenues of investigation while saving time and resources.

When applied to pharmaceuticals, AI has the potential to streamline research activities such as pre-clinical and clinical study design.

It can facilitate the re-purposing of existing drugs (either alone or in combinations) for new therapeutic uses.

Combination dementia drug

Earlier this week, Algorae announced it was making headway with a combination drug candidate to treat patients with dementia.

The company — which changed its name in July from Living Cell Technologies — updated shareholders with progress on the development of AI-116 in the three months to end September which included the filing of a provisional patent application.

During the period, Algorae also executed a research agreement with Melbourne’s La Trobe University for the completion of pre-clinical studies to assess AI-116, which includes cannabidiol (CBD) and another off-patent pharmaceutical ingredient.

State-of-the-art experimental techniques are expected to provide valuable insights into the drug’s mechanism of action by comparing the efficacy of AI-116 to an existing class of drugs used to treat dementia.

Results are anticipated over a period of 12 months.

They are expected to guide the next steps in Algorae’s research program and potentially underpin further patent applications.

NTCELL clinical trial

Algorae continued to progress a scientific review of the NTCELL clinical trial protocol and development plan for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease with a primary focus on assessing potential enhancements to its therapeutic value.

The review is being conducted under the leadership of chief operating officer Dr Belinda Di Bartolo who was appointed to the project in 2021.

Dr Di Bartolo is assisted by a team of experts on the NTCELL scientific advisory board.

Board appointment

During the reporting period, Algorae appointed business executive Bradley Latham as a non-executive director to its board.

The majority of Mr Latham’s career has been with privately-owned Sydney Markets where he worked his way through the ranks before being appointed group chief executive officer in 2006.

He has experience in strategic planning, financial and operational management, business development and the marketing of various brands.

Mr Latham holds a master’s degree in management from the UNSW.