PostEra, a biotechnology company specialising in machine learning for drug discovery, today announced that it has received a grant of £100,000 from the independent medical charity LifeArc to support an international effort to rapidly develop a potential antiviral candidate for COVID-19. The grant will be entirely dedicated to the COVID Moonshot initiative, which PostEra jointly leads alongside leading scientists from Diamond Light Source, Weizmann Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and MedChemica.
The aim of the COVID Moonshot initiative is to develop a globally accessible oral antiviral. In one year, Moonshot has gone from a fragment screen to several lead series. The initiative is currently optimising such leads and hopes to announce a preclinical candidate ready for clinical trial-enabling studies within 3 months.
Furthermore, the project aims to show the value of open science drug discovery, by producing an inexpensive and effective therapeutic given the lack of R&D costs to recoup. The project also shares all data in the open to put the broader scientific community on the front foot should another coronavirus pandemic emerge.
PostEra and the COVID Moonshot consortium are immensely grateful for LifeArc’s support. “LifeArc’s support will enable us to reach an important milestone, delivering a molecule ready for preclinical studies,” said Alpha Lee, Chief Scientific Officer of PostEra. “Our open science model has enabled us to make rapid progress by establishing a wide net of collaborators. We look forward to working with visionary medical charities like LifeArc as our lead compound moves towards the clinic.”
Dr Andy Merritt, Head of Chemistry at LifeArc said: “LifeArc plays a vital role in advancing medical research through funding, advice and scientific expertise to translate early discoveries into Since the beginning of LifeArc has contributed £27m to research projects to address the healthcare challenges of COVID-19 and we have been considering more ways in which we could apply our knowledge and expertise in this area. Our collaboration with the Moonshot consortium enables us to do this, as we seek to advance a potential antiviral candidate to first in patient trials and support the development of a framework for a response to future pandemics.”