BARDA and Clarivate are partnering to leverage computational approaches in identifying therapeutics for potential repurposing as medical countermeasures (MCMs) against chlorine- and sulfur mustard-induced injuries.
Under BARDA’s Division of Research, Innovation, and Ventures (DRIVe) Repurposing Drugs in Response to Chemical Threats (ReDIRECT) program, BARDA will provide funding for drug screening efforts to identify therapeutic candidates that can be repurposed and evaluated via the ReDIRECT, Nonclinical Network, or Chemical Medical Countermeasures programs.
Drug repurposing evaluates new uses, outside of the original clinical indication, for therapeutics that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or that are in late-stage development. BARDA funding will aid in target identification and drug factor analyses to identify potential drugs for repurposing that are easily accessible in hospitals and pharmacies, with a focus on those that could treat the symptoms of diseases that are also symptoms of chemical agent exposure. This “treat the symptom” approach, which is agnostic to the chemical injury itself, is a key strategy of the ReDIRECT program’s drug repurposing efforts.
Clarivate will leverage in silico (a high-throughput experiment performed via computer simulation) tools to identify drugs that are commonly available and can be used as MCMs for exposure to chemical agents. Their methods will focus on evaluating genomic experiments, systems and computational biology, as well as known protein-protein interactions and molecular pathways accessed through its proprietary curated databases. These computational approaches are expected to provide fast, focused methods for screening drug candidates most likely to be repurposed successfully for treating chemical exposures.
A vast number of chemical threats exist and can inflict injuries rapidly. To save lives, MCMs must be readily available. There are no FDA approved drugs to treat chlorine exposure nor the ocular and respiratory effects of sulfur mustard.
Conventional drug discovery can involve costly and lengthy studies that may be limited due to the complex interactions between drug compounds and the human body. In contrast, artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms can evaluate large data sets quickly and extract insightful information to help researchers make informed decisions about which drug candidates to pursue. Machine learning and AI can help to identify and prioritize new targets for drug discovery and drugs that could be repurposed which reduces the time and cost of preclinical drug development.
These bioanalytical approaches may accelerate BARDA’s development efforts to identify compounds that can treat the symptoms associated with chemical agent exposure. This effort is the first project funded through the BARDA DRIVe ReDIRECT program to leverage machine learning- and AI-based capabilities.
The award is one component of BARDA’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) medical countermeasures and DRIVe’s medical countermeasures portfolios. Visit DRIVe’s ReDIRECT program to learn more.
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