Life Sciences

Intellegens and CPI awarded £1.6m Innovate UK grant to advance manufacture of oligonucleotide therapeutics with machine learning

Intellegens, a company applying machine learning (ML) to accelerate innovation in R&D, today announced that it has secured a £1.6m grant from Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to apply ML in the emerging field of oligonucleotide therapies. In collaboration with the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI), the two-year project will augment and validate the company’s ML technology, Alchemite™, as a tool to enhance productivity and yields of oligonucleotide therapeutic manufacture through performance prediction and optimisation of quality control strategies.

Expert support for the project is being provided with direct input from six leading research organisations, including top 10 pharma companies, such as Novartis and specialist biotech companies, such as Silence Therapeutics.

Offering high specificity with the ability to treat an extremely broad range of diseases, oligonucleotides represent a promising therapeutic option in pharmaceutical research. However, their full potential is yet to be realised, as manufacturing knowledge and experience are limited outside a small number of specialist companies. Therapeutic oligonucleotides are large, complex molecules, requiring a multi-stage synthetic process alongside significant purification and analysis steps. The workflow presents many challenges, constraining manufacturing productivity.

Intellegens’ Alchemite is a set of advanced ML artificial intelligence algorithms and tools that supports the design and development of chemicals, materials, formulations, and processes. The novel adaptation of machine learning can extract meaningful information from the sparse, noisy datasets typical of experimental programmes and chemical and biological processes. The tool has been applied to process and other optimisation challenges across multiple industries, including modelling small-molecule drug pharmacokinetics with a world-leading pharmaceutical company1 and developing novel additive manufacturing processes with collaborators including Boeing2. The results are accelerated time to market for innovative products and increased manufacturing efficiency.

The collaboration will validate Alchemite as a tool to improve productivity in oligonucleotide process development and manufacturing workflows. Through automated data processing and process modelling, Alchemite will be used for analysis of large datasets, predictions of process performance, and subsequent optimisation of quality control strategies and process parameters. The project has been granted access to CPI Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC), providing world-leading expertise and state-of-the-art facilities for the duration of the collaboration.

Ben Pellegrini, CEO, Intellegens, said: “The potential of oligonucleotide therapeutics to treat a vast spectrum of diseases is an exciting prospect that is unfortunately held back by manufacturing capabilities. We are extremely pleased to announce this Innovate UK funded collaborative project with CPI and experts from across the life sciences to apply Alchemite to improve manufacturing productivity of these next-generation therapeutics.”

Dave Tudor, Managing Director of Pharmaceuticals at CPI, said: “We are really excited to be working with Intellegens on this project to help harness the potential of oligonucleotides to treat a variety of conditions. Oligonucleotides are complex molecules and the process of bringing them to market is costly, meaning very few companies are able to harness this potentially life-saving and life-changing technology. Through CPI’s Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre, we will look to bring together a community of experts from the pharmaceutical and technology companies to support the development of the Alchemite tools, reducing development times and improving manufacturability of oligonucleotide therapeutics.”