FB1006: AI-discovered drug advances to clinical trials for ALS treatment

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal type of motor neuron disease characterized by progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain, resulting in muscle weakness and paralysis that can include the inability to walk and speak, or even swallow and breathe. The average life expectancy of an ALS patient after diagnosis is two to five years. Currently, there is no cure for or way to prevent ALS from progressing. 

A drug known as FB1006, fully discovered and developed using AI, from target identification to efficacy assessment, is being advanced as a new potential treatment for this devastating disease. The company leading the drug's development, 4B Technologies, has successfully completed enrollment of all 64 patients in the investigator-initiated clinical trial (IIT) for the treatment of ALS. The program was conducted at the Third Hospital of Peking University, and is expected to complete the double-blind dosing in August 2024 and the one-year clinical observation in February 2025.

Led by Prof. Bai Lu of Tsinghua University, with Prof. Dongsheng Fan, a renowned ALS expert from Peking University Third Hospital, as the Principal Investigator, and in collaboration with 4B Technologies, Insilico, and other AI institutes, the IIT study integrates industry, academia, research and clinical medicine to drive new treatment possibilities for ALS patients. 

AI technology was applied to multiple stages of the drug's discovery and development, including target identification, patient enrollment, and efficacy assessment. Using AI allowed researchers to significantly shorten the patient screening and complete enrollment within one year, as well as to maximize the use of the clinical data of the subjects, solving the problem of insufficient sample size of rare diseases.

The development of ALS medications calls for innovative approaches to accelerate clinical research. In the clinical study of FB1006, we successfully adopted the innovative approach of Trial-ready Cohort (TRC), which is established through datasets comprising patient history, blood biochemistry results, EEG/EMG, imaging, genome and more. With the help of the ALS TRC database, we could accurately enroll patients upon clinical trial initiation, based on target and drug properties, clinical effects and side effects, thus shortening the time and reducing the cost of patient enrollment, while increasing the success rate of the Investigator-initiated Trial (IIT). We look forward to the promising results of FB1006."

Dongsheng Fan, M.D., PhD, from Peking University Third Hospital

"We are pleased to see that 4B Technologies completed the whole development process of FB1006, from target identification and compound screening to patient enrollment, in less than 2 years with the joint efforts," said Bai Lu, PhD, founder of 4B Technologies and professor at Tsinghua University. "The discovery of FB1006 is powered by AI applications, and the ongoing clinical trial has utilized AI in processes including patient enrollment and efficacy assessment, potentially benefiting more patients. We expect that these explorations into innovative concepts, technologies and modes will help overcome the challenges of ALS and benefit patients worldwide."

Insilico was deeply involved in the early drug development of the FB1006 program. In August 2021, Insilico and 4B Technologies achieved a collaboration to leverage PandaOmics, Insilico's proprietary AI target identification engine, to discover potential targets and to advance drug repurposing strategies for ALS treatment. 

In this collaboration, Insilico identified 28 novel targets with potential for the treatment of ALS, three of which have approved and marketed drugs for other diseases. 4B Technologies, with its research expertise in translational and clinical medicine in the field of neurological diseases, evaluated, selected and manufactured one of these drugs as a candidate repurposed for ALS and initiated an IIT clinical trial. 

"It is exciting that the research Insilico contributed to has advanced to the clinical stage as a potential drug for ALS in such a short period of time," said Feng Ren, PhD, co-CEO and Chief Scientific Officer of Insilico Medicine. "FB1006, as an innovative drug, was assisted by AI in both early drug discovery and clinical stage studies. It took less than 2 years from target identification to the completion of IIT enrollment, which once again proves the ability of AI to accelerate drug discovery and development. We look forward to the efficient progress of the IIT program and further research results."


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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