Project will be led by respiratory medicine expert Dr Timothy Hinks from the world-renowned Oxford University Respiratory Medicine Unit
Oxford, U.K. 10 August 2021: Sensyne Health plc (LSE: SENS) (“Sensyne” or the “Company” or the “Group”), the ethical Clinical AI company, today announces it has signed an agreement with Oxford University to conduct a multi-omics drug discovery research project in asthma.
The three-year project will focus on identifying novel drug targets for patients with severe forms of asthma that do not respond to the current standard of care and where pre-existing treatments such as corticosteroids and biologics are less effective.
Sensyne will apply its machine learning expertise and proprietary analytical tools to analyse complex genetic, phenotypic, and electronic patient record data sets for the Oxford University ‘MultiOmics Project Study Genomics Asthma Project’ (“MORSE”). The combination of three data sets will provide a platform for the identification of novel drug targets for the treatment of severe forms of asthma. The IP in any novel drug target identified by this research will be owned by Sensyne Health with a royalty payment back to Oxford University and the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in line with the Strategic Research Agreements entered into between the parties and Sensyne in 2018.
The research will aim to:
- Undertake whole genome sequencing (“WGS”) of highly-phenotyped adult patients with severe forms of asthma from the Oxford Severe Asthma cohort. Data will be compared with controls to identify novel variations associated with specific highly defined asthma phenotypes
- Undertake detailed transcriptomic analysis of samples from airways of selected patients who have undergone WGS
- Develop a bioinformatic analysis pipeline which can integrate these datasets and provide proof of concept in identifying novel information on pathways and phenotypes
Asthma is the most common chronic lung disease, affecting 350 million people worldwide and causing 400,000 deaths annually. Up to 10% of asthmatics have severe, treatment-refractory disease, constituting a significant unmet clinical need due to exacerbations, healthcare costs and mortality.
Dr Timothy Hinks, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and Honorary NHS Consultant at the John Radcliffe Hospital, said:
“As a clinician caring for people with severe and difficult-to-treat asthma I’m hugely excited about this collaboration. Asthma affects 1 in 12 adults in UK and severe forms of asthma has a major impact on people’s lives with time off school and work, and hospital admissions. We still don’t understand the causes of asthma, because in the past the scientific tools just didn’t exist. Now we’re at a point in history that we can use tiny samples from the airways of volunteers and study individual cells in incredible detail measuring how each gene is controlled, one cell at a time. As a scientist I’m optimistic this is going to bring about really significant new insights into the mechanisms that drive asthma, so we can develop some new treatments for this, the world’s most common long-term lung condition.
“This project is only made possible through a ground-breaking partnership between the University of Oxford, Sensyne Health and Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, sharing our resources and expertise to tackle a common problem.”
Chas Bountra Pro-Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Professor of Translational Medicine at the University of Oxford, said:
“Partnering with industry is crucial for accelerating the life-changing, world-class research we do here at the University of Oxford. We are pleased to be working with Sensyne Health on this important project which will enable our scientists to look for breakthrough drug discoveries to combat respiratory disease.”
Lord (Paul) Drayson PhD, CEO of Sensyne Health, said:
“We are delighted to be working with such world-class research partners on our first project to apply Sensyne’s deep expertise in AI to the discovery of novel asthma drugs. AI enabled drug discovery is growing fast and Sensyne is well placed to apply its expertise to build leadership in this field.”