Researchers at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan College of Pharmacy, and the U-M Life Sciences Institute are working to advance their projects through Atomwise’s Artificial Intelligence Molecular Screen Awards program, which uses artificial intelligence-powered screening technology used by pharmaceutical companies. Atomwise is based in California.
Alan Smrcka of the U-M Department of Pharmacology and Daniel Lawrence of the Department of Internal Medicine, Cardiovascular Medicine, are two of four researchers working with Atomwise and Fast Forward Medical Innovation, a unit within the U-M Medical School Office of Research, to accelerate their drug discovery programs. Smrcka and Lawrence are researchers from Michigan Medicine.
“FFMI’s mission is to accelerate and support the transfer of technologies from academia to the private sector for commercialization, so partnerships with companies like Atomwise, which can help speed up the early stages of the drug discovery process, are very exciting to our program and the researchers we serve,” says Steve Kunkel, interim executive vice dean for research at the U-M Medical School and interim chief scientific officer at Michigan Medicine.
The U-M Therapeutic Innovation Fund, which is co-managed by FFMI and the Michigan Center for Therapeutic Innovation, has been helping Smrcka accelerate his pain management research efforts through funding and mentorship. He has found a protein that could end the opioid crisis if he can find a drug to alter pain response. An estimated 130 people die each day from opioid-related drug overdoses.
Smrcka received a grant from Atomwise’s Artificial Intelligence Molecular Screen Awards program.
Millions of people have fibrotic disease, in which the body produces uncontrolled amounts of scar tissue, leading to excessive tissue deposits that can result in organ failure. Lawrence has developed a drug to inhibit the growth of a fibrotic matrix and improve treatment options in a number of clinically important settings, including fibrotic diseases of the lung, kidney, and heart. Atomwise will do a virtual screen of 10 million commercially available small molecule compounds using artificial intelligence.
Atomwise’s Artificial Intelligence Molecular Screen Awards program was created to support drug discovery research in academia.