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Pioneering the future of drug discovery with AI and untapped natural ecosystems Kapoose Creek Bio

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“In all, we are building a diversified portfolio of stakes in the next generation of medicines where the market opportunity exceeds $50 billion.” 

Kapoose Creek Bio is revolutionizing the drug discovery process by harnessing the power of AI and tapping into unexplored natural ecosystems to identify the next generation of transformative medicines. Through its proprietary AI technology, unEarth Rx, and a growing collection of compounds sourced from its proprietary fungal collection, Kapoose Creek Bio is rapidly advancing drug discovery. These unique fungal compounds are poised to address some of the most pressing medical challenges of our time. The Kapoose team is confident that there’s never been a better time to be a drug discoverer and the prospects have never been brighter for the future of medicines from nature.

The Silicon Review reached out to Dr. Eric Brown, CEO of Kapoose Creek Bio, and here’s what he had to say.

Interview Highlights

Q. Why do medicines from nature hold so much potential?

It’s often said that nature makes the best medicines, and history has shown that to be true. Hundreds of millions of years of interspecies evolution have created optimal chemistry and mechanisms to enable the development of generations of game-changing drugs – from penicillin to blockbuster cholesterol-lowering statins, to the remarkable immunosuppressive agent cyclosporine. To this day, about half of all drugs introduced into the clinic are derived from nature.

Yet significantly, most of these drugs are modeled after bioactive chemistry discovered decades ago. Modern pharmaceutical drug discovery efforts have largely abandoned searches for natural chemistry, despite the historical successes. The reasons for this are manifold and complex, but mostly reflect the fact that conventional methods of drug discovery from nature are laborious, slow and expensive.

But now, AI has the potential to change this paradigm. Machine learning models allow researchers to rapidly analyze huge data sets from multiple sources, and accelerate a number of elements of the long pharmaceutical R&D process, increasing the cost-effectiveness of a process that is prone to false starts and failure. And excitingly, with only about five per cent of the world’s natural chemistry charted to date, the potential to address some of the biggest medical challenges of our time has never been greater.

Q. How are you using artificial intelligence to accelerate drug discovery?

Our unEarth Rx AI platform has been purpose-built to address the historic limitations of finding new drugs from nature – and accelerate the discovery of promising drug leads by five-fold, adding huge value to the long and expensive process of bringing a drug to market. We’re using leading AI technology to enable us to access never-before-seen chemical matter, screen for activity and mechanisms in many diseases in parallel, apply generative design to optimize leads, and rapidly scale for downstream R&D.

Q. You mention that only about five per cent of the world’s natural chemistry has been charted. Where do you source the chemical matter that you’re studying?

Kapoose Creek Bio sources much of its chemical matter from the land surrounding our research station, located on a remote coast of Canada’s Vancouver Island. The facility sits on a rare corridor of land untouched during the last ice age, which yields an ecosystem with rich and untapped varieties of wild fungi, one of the most prolific and least studied of microbes, known to be an exceptional source of novel and diverse chemistry for new drug discovery. Legacy drugs from fungi include penicillin, discovered about 100 years ago, and the statins, blockbuster cholesterol lowering agents first unearthed decades ago. Today, millions of fungal species remain uncharacterized and ripe for discovery.

Q. Can you share more about Kapoose’s unEarth Rx platform?

Our unEarth Rx platform starts by analyzing the unique chemical matter derived from our proprietary fungal collection. The platform then applies AI-powered therapeutic profiling to analyze the phenotypic activity of the metabolites, in vitro and in vivo, ultimately yielding hundreds of features defining compound action. AI algorithms trained on thousands of bioactive chemicals then produce activity maps, showcasing the mechanism and therapeutic potential of novel fungal chemistry – in turn, substantially de-risking downstream discovery and development activities.

The next step is generative design, where the natural chemistry of prioritized metabolites is optimized with the power of generative AI, to identify novel chemistry tuned for new human therapies. The final piece is synthetic biology, where proprietary strains of microbes are designed to produce natural chemistry quickly and at scale, reducing cost and enabling downstream drug development.

Q. Are you able to share any details of your achievements to date?

Kapoose Creek Bio’s AI-powered platform and map of therapeutic potential has remarkable capacity to accelerate the identification of natural chemistry for new therapeutic development; and has already provided foci for downstream development programs in neurology, cancer and infectious diseases. Indeed, we have recently advanced one of our hit compounds to lead status for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease.

In all, we are building a diversified portfolio of stakes in the next generation of medicines where the market opportunity exceeds $50 billion. Having established foci in neurology, cancer and infectious disease, we are proceeding with ambitious plans for validating the unEarthRx platform through the creation of assets for clinical development and collaborations with pharma partners.

Q. Tell us, what’s next for Kapoose Creek Bio?

We have recently added two world-leading experts in drug discovery and AI to our team of scientific advisors: Dr. André Brown, a Group Leader and Medical Research Council Investigator at the London Institute of Medical Sciences; and Dr. Jonathan Stokes, an Assistant Professor at McMaster University and a rising star in the fast-moving field of AI-enabled drug discovery. Dr. Brown and Dr. Stokes join a team of accomplished mycologists, drug discoverers, and biotechnology experts, and reinforce our commitment to building a world-leading platform at the intersection of AI and biomedicine.

We are very excited about the future.

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Eric Brown, PhD | CEO

Dr. Eric Brown leads Kapoose Creek Bio and is a distinguished University Professor at McMaster University in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences. He is known for a large body of top-flight research in antibiotic discovery and for innovating in diverse areas of drug discovery, using tools of chemical and systems biology to probe the complexity that underlies disease. He is especially curious about technology and discoveries with promise in creating breakthrough therapies. Dr. Brown is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has received a number of other awards including the Canadian Society of Microbiologists Murray Award for career achievement.

“Kapoose Creek Bio’s AI-powered platform and map of therapeutic potential has remarkable capacity to accelerate the identification of natural chemistry for new therapeutic development; and has already provided foci for downstream development programs in neurology, cancer and infectious diseases.”