MELLODDY will demonstrate how the pharmaceutical industry can better leverage its data assets to virtualize the Drug Discovery (DD) process with world-leading Machine Learning (ML) technologies as an answer to the ever-increasing challenges and stricter regulatory requirements it is facing. The lack of a tested, secure and privacy-preserving platform for federated machine learning that enables pharmaceutical partners to extract DD-relevant information from all types of, not only their own but even each other’s competitive data, without mutual disclosure of the chemistry and biology each partner has worked on, has previously held back such demonstration, to the detriment of patients in the EU and beyond. MELLODDY’s ten pharmaceutical partners will enable this demonstration with an unprecedented volume of more than a billion highly private and competitive DD-relevant data points, and hundreds of Tbs of image data that annotate the biological effects of more than 10 million small molecules. The successful demonstration of the predictive benefits, i.e. increased predictive model performance and chemical applicability domain, of unlocking this data volume, while strictly preserving the privacy of all underlying data and the resulting predictive models, will shape best practices and translate into substantial efficiency gains in the DD process, and in the future, drug development. Finally, MELLODDY will prepare and exploit a service-for-fee vehicle to ensure the MELLODDY technologies are available to the rest of the pharmaceutical sector.
EBiSC2 builds on the achievements of the European Bank for iPSCs (EBiSC1) in centralising existing capacities across Europe in a unique banking and distribution infrastructure for research use in response to the increasing demand for human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC). Significant progress towards this aim has been made by EBiSC1; further resources, however, are required to ensure self-sustainability. Key partners of EBiSC1 who have delivered major assets of the current bank, join efforts to establish EBiSC2 as self-sustainable, central bank. Based on a gap analysis of the EBiSC1 endeavours towards sustainability, and focussing on user demand, scientific excellence and productivity, EBiSC2 will deploy a business strategy for a sustainable, non-for-profit bank providing access to disease-relevant and quality-controlled iPSCs, along with comprehensive data and freedom to operate for academic and commercial use. To meet evolving requirements from industry and academia, the cell catalogue will be constantly enriched through on-demand generation of new iPSC lines, including gene-edited lines and isogenic controls, iPSC-derived and progenitor cells. EBiSC2 will distribute cell lines and develop a range of additional cell services (incl. screening panels of disease-relevant iPSC and control lines in ready-to-use-formats) to extend its offer, while reducing operational costs through state-of-the-art upscaling and automation enabling bulk production of standardised high-quality cells. Proof-of-concept studies performed jointly by academia and industry will demonstrate the reliability and robustness of the lines for disease modelling and screening and enrich the EBiSC2 catalogue with extensive data. To bundle resources, EBiSC2 focuses on collaboration with iPSC programmes and aims to serve as central hub for EU-funded projects to bank their iPSC lines, and thus, enable long-term access by the research community to the results of European investments.
By bridging an important gap between basic research and drug development, ESCulab will facilitate the translation of fundamental scientific insights into innovative drug starting points. New biological ideas will be collected by crowdsourcing, novel targets, phenotypes and pathways translated and de-risked by delivering high-quality chemical starting points for drug development. Innovators from EU academics and SMEs are offered access to state-of-the-art industry-grade facilities, drug discovery expertise, and a top-quality, curated library with over 550,000 unique compounds suitable for screening potential drug targets. The ESCulab drug discovery data generated will allow the innovators to build a proposition that is likely to attract investors and/or drug developers and stimulate them to further exploit these findings. Ultimately, this will result in novel medicines – based on basic scientific findings – that will help patients (sooner). ESCulab will achieve this by starting off the shoulders of the European Lead Factory (ELF), where this principle has been successfully implemented. 15 out of the 18 ESCulab consortium members were involved in ELF, thus ensuring maximum benefit from the ELF legacy. ESCulab will expand and enhance ELF by supporting 185 new screens. Important additions include the application of a much larger compound collection for screening, the ability to accommodate the more complex phenotypic screening assays, and the building of a sustainable business model to ensure access to Collaborative Drug Discovery activities beyond the funding period. The delivery of qualified hit lists (QHLs) is the end point for this project, but during the funding period, ESCulab will attract additonal funding for externally paid screens and hit-to-lead projects for organizations such as charities and foundations for long term sustainability of the initiative.