Cyclica launches drug design platform for pharmaceutical scientists

Toronto-based biotechnology startup Cyclica, has announced the launch of its drug discovery platform designed to help pharmaceutical scientists generate new drug-like compounds.

“Our vision is to reduce the time of drug discovery… and to get the best molecules in the hands of patients faster.”

Through the new platform, entitled Ligand Design, the company intends to offer the pharmaceutical industry an integrated, end-to-end platform to design more personalized medicines while limiting side effects. The platform uses a genetic algorithm alongside a new patented AI technology called POEM. The launch announcement was made by Cyclica’s president and CEO, Naheed Kurji, at Collision Conference in Toronto.

“I believe that the Cyclica team is on the forefront of innovation in drug discovery. Together with Ligand Express, their new Ligand Design technology will reshape and enhance how scientists conduct their research faster and with higher quality,” said John Conway, an adviser at Cyclica. “At the end of the day, it’s all about making faster and more informed decisions, and their drug discovery platform allows scientists to do just that.”

Cyclica’s other platform, Ligand Express, allows pharmaceutical companies to navigate the drug discovery pipeline by assessing and gaining insights into the safety and efficacy of drugs. By gaining insights into various drugs’ effects, Cyclica’s users can identify unknown targets, prioritize lead candidates, explain a drug’s adverse effects, and understand repurposing opportunities.

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Cyclica has been developing the Ligand Design platform in stealth for three years. During that time, the company raised a $4.65 million Series A that comprised an initial $2.25 million in September 2016, following a $2.4 million follow on in July 2017.

“Our vision is to reduce the time of drug discovery from 7 years to 2 years, and to get the best molecules in the hands of patients faster. We believe this can be accomplished by empowering experimental scientists in pharma with a holistic and integrated in silico workflow that combines computational biophysics and machine learning,” said Kurji. “Together, with Ligand Design and Ligand Express, we will move away from the classical computational approaches, and accelerate drug discovery by designing drugs for patients, not proteins.”

Cyclica was among the 10 companies that participated in the China Angels Mentorship Program (CAMP) Accelerator program’s second cohort in Beijing, China in October 2016, looking to enable companies to scale their businesses internationally. Cyclica was also listed as a finalist at Hawk’s Nest, a healthtech pitch competition, last November.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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