Human Studies Start for Promising COVID-19 Treatment Discovered by LSU DeepDrug Team Using Artificial Intelligence
New combination of already FDA-approved compounds can prevent extreme and lasting symptoms, cut hospitalizations.
BATON ROUGE, August 11, 2021—Skymount Medical, a drug discovery company based in Canada, and Louisiana State University
(LSU) announced today that human studies have begun on its unique combination of therapies
for COVID-19 patients, known as SM-19. Found by artificial intelligence (AI), the
treatment has shown up to 97% efficacy in reducing the amount of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus
that causes COVID-19) in cell and animal studies recently conducted by Illinois Institute
The drug combination discovered by the LSU DeepDrug team is designed to be effective against several variants of the virus and reduce the amount and duration of symptoms, including long-term effects of COVID-19.
The individual compounds have already been approved by the FDA for other uses in humans and have well-characterized safety profiles. This can greatly accelerate the time for SM-19 to become widely available, including as treatment over the counter. At this time, there are no approved oral medications to reduce COVID-19 symptoms in people who are not hospitalized.
“This is the role a flagship university is meant to play—to better the condition of our citizens through the application of great research.”—Samuel J. Bentley, LSU vice president of research and economic development
“The LSU DeepDrug and Skymount collaboration is an excellent example of how universities can partner with industry to put science to work for the good of us all and provide critical solutions when people most need them,” said Samuel J. Bentley, LSU vice president of research and economic development. “This is the role a flagship university is meant to play—to better the condition of our citizens through the application of great research.”
Human studies began yesterday in Europe and additional drug trials are planned in the U.S., India, and Brazil. The approach is to treat adults at the first sign of infection.
“Early animal testing was very promising, and we’re optimistic the new treatment will reduce extreme symptoms and the need for hospitalizations,” said Dr. Kishor M. Wasan, chief medical and scientific officer and co-inventor of Skymount Medical. “SM-19 can be an important complement to COVID-19 vaccines that also is cost-effective, safe, and easily accessible.”
“The LSU DeepDrug team’s AI-based drug discovery platform has enabled us to target viral entry, fusion, and replication and directly address symptoms using a time-saving drug re-purposing strategy.”—Chris Galliano, chief technology officer and co-inventor of Skymount Medical
Skymount Medical and LSU are working in partnership on several COVID-19 treatments
“The discovery of these medications came through a highly unique and novel process fusing artificial intelligence with traditional wet lab pharmacology,” said Chris Galliano, chief technology officer and co-inventor of Skymount Medical. “The LSU DeepDrug team’s AI-based drug discovery platform has enabled us to target viral entry, fusion, and replication and directly address symptoms using a time-saving drug re-purposing strategy.”
LSU’s DeepDrug platform was created by an interdisciplinary team of LSU researchers led by Supratik Mukhopadhyay, associate professor in the LSU Department of Computer Science. The LSU team was a recent semi-finalist for the IBM Watson AI XPRIZE, a $5 million award for using AI to tackle global challenges.
“Starting human studies is incredibly exciting, because we wouldn’t be at this step if early studies didn’t indicate high levels of efficacy and validated the data produced by AI,” Mukhopadhyay said.
The European study on adult patients with COVID-19 symptoms is a double-blinded, randomized, multi-center, controlled study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of SM-19 compared to placebo. SM-19 is an oral treatment that doesn’t require refrigeration, which will help with both production and distribution.
“We are extremely pleased that within 13 months of starting the drug discovery process we could move to human studies. We couldn’t have accomplished this without AI.”—Supratik Mukhopadhyay, associate professor in the LSU Department of Computer Science and member of the LSU DeepDrug team
“It normally takes about 10 years for new drugs to reach patients, while our DeepDrug platform can reduce the time to drug discovery by 90%,” Mukhopadhyay continued. “We are extremely pleased that within 13 months of starting the drug discovery process we could move to human studies. We couldn’t have accomplished this without AI.”
Besides Mukhopadhyay, the LSU DeepDrug team consists of Michal Brylinski, associate professor of biological sciences with a joint appointment in the LSU Center for Computation & Technology, and graduate students Adam Bess and Frej Berglind.
“Our main goal was to use AI to reduce hospitalizations and the COVID-19 mortality rate,” Bess said. “Screening drugs that are already deemed safe for human use enabled us to rapidly identify new drug combinations.”
“In seconds, our AI can process more information than any human could in a lifetime,” Berglind added. “It sees patterns we would never spot otherwise, and far exceeds human intuition in finding drug candidates.”
LSU Research Contact
Elsa Hahne, LSU Office of Research & Economic Development, firstname.lastname@example.org
LSU Media Contact
Alison Satake, LSU Media Relations, email@example.com, 510-816-8161
Skymount Media Contact
Scott Henderson, Skymount Medical, 403-921-2001
About Skymount Medical
Skymount Medical is a technology company that uses DeepDrug™️, a patent-pending artificial intelligence platform, to drastically reduce drug discovery time and develop treatments for COVID-19. Skymount Medical and LSU have so far identified 60 drug candidates that could be used in combination therapy against any coronavirus, including MERS, SARS, SARS-CoV-2 and future SARS-CoV strains. In addition to commercializing its COVID-19 treatment and testing drug candidates for the treatment of other coronaviruses, Skymount Medical plans to develop therapeutics for some of the world’s most challenging infectious diseases, including Ebola, as well as new antibiotics to target antibiotic-resistant bacteria and rare diseases, such as ALS and MS.