Recursion Pharmaceuticals, an exciting biotech company located in the University of Utah’s Research Park, today announced a $223,000 Phase I Small Business Innovation Research award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) via the National Institute on Aging (NIA). The award, which has the potential to increase to $2 million subject to achievement of milestones, will support the application of Recursion’s advanced drug screening platform to finding treatments for chronic diseases of aging.
“We are proud and excited to announce this award, which showcases the ability of our platform to extend beyond rare diseases and into the devastating diseases of aging,” remarked Chris Gibson, Ph.D., Co-founder, and CEO of Recursion. “Our discovery platform is incredibly flexible, and this work is just one of a number of novel applications of our technology.”
The award, titled “Novel Methodology for Identification of Senolytics that Reduce Age-related Disease and Dysfunction,” will support Recursion’s use of its platform to identify drugs that enhance healthy lifespan or potentially reverse the onset of age-related chronic diseases. The platform uses high-throughput microscopy to image cells modeling several stages of the aging process. Advanced computational algorithms identify changes in the appearance of these cells that can be considered the “fingerprint” of aging. Recursion will evaluate the potential of thousands of known and experimental drugs to rescue these “aged” cells, restoring them to the appearance of health. This approach will enable companies and institutions that partner with Recursion to evaluate the potential of their mature molecules as treatments for diseases of aging, all at rapid timescales.
“The use of a flexible platform like Recursion’s on the diseases of aging is very exciting,” said Tony Donato, Ph.D., M.S., Associate Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Utah and Co-investigator on the project. “It has the potential to identify drugs with health-prolonging properties. This award is well-aligned with the NIA’s goal of extending the healthy, active years of life. I am confident that our findings will be of great value to not only our partners at Recursion, but the general public.”
Blake Borgeson, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Recursion, added: “Our approach turns drug discovery into a data science problem. We take advantage of scale, efficiency, and advances in many fields to accelerate the process. We are proud to receive the NIA’s vote of confidence, and are enthusiastic about pursuing this new direction.”
Recursion has already demonstrated the success of its approach in rare disease. The company has modeled hundreds of genetic diseases and is in the process of conducting drug screens across many of them. The platform has already delivered early candidates for more than half a dozen genetic diseases, including spinal muscular atrophy, neurofibromatosis type 2, and cerebral cavernous malformation. In fact, the identification of two potential treatments for cerebral cavernous malformation is what gave rise to the idea for Recursion. At the time, the technology was still in the academic laboratory of Dr. Dean Y. Li, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Utah Health Sciences. Dr. Li is a co-founder of the company and its Chief Scientific Officer. “It’s exciting to watch Recursion grow and succeed” commented Dr. Li. “This is exactly the type of academic-industry partnership that the University of Utah promotes. It’s the best of both worlds, enabling discoveries to be rapidly translated into the clinic.”
Recursion Pharmaceuticals is an emerging biotechnology company based in Salt Lake City. Recursion combines experimental biology and bioinformatics with artificial intelligence in a massively parallel system to quickly and efficiently identify treatments for any disease which can be modeled at the cellular level. From its initial and continued focus on drug repurposing to treat rare diseases, Recursion has broadened its platform to probe rich data from high-throughput automated screens for a number of indications, including aging, inflammation, infectious disease, oncology, and diagnostics. Recursion’s ultimate vision is to leverage technology to build a robust and reliable map of human cellular biology, which would enable a radical shift in the pace and scale at which new treatments could benefit patients. Learn more at www.recursionpharma.com, or connect on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.