Deargen: Laveraging AI to Accelerate New Drug Development

hen it comes to developing a new drug, the process requires a huge amount of time and cost. On average, it takes 10 to 15 years for a new drug to be approved for the market, and the estimated R&D cost for the new drug development is $2.16 billion. As one-third of cost is consumed in the early phases of new drug development, it is critical to increase the probability of success in the early stages of development. Reducing time and cost can significantly improve the efficiency of new drug development, and this can be achieved by using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Enter Deargen.

The company possesses a sequence-based deep learning AI platform called Dr.UG that can efficiently discover and design new drug candidates. Dr.UG is not only specialized in screening drug candidates for targets but assists in AI-driven lead optimization. “This platform makes it possible to apply even to targets without the known 3D structure of the protein,” says Kilsoo Kang, CEO, Deargen. It specializes in genome data analysis, biomarker prediction, molecule selection, and optimization. The company discovers a new disease target with Dr.UG and further realizes precision medicine by designing small molecules for new drugs. Prior to preclinical testing, the traditional way of the new drug development used to take on an average 4 to 5 years. On the other hand, DR.UG can reduce the time to one year, which also reduces a significant amount of cost.

“DR.UG comprises three components,” adds Youngchul Daniel Bae, CBO, Deargen. First, DearTRANS is a platform for discovering new treatment targets through genetic analysis and predicting the mechanism of particular treatments. Secondly, DearDTI predicts the binding affinity based on data of compound-protein interactions. Finally, MolEQ is a platform used in the lead optimization process of substances, which can be used to optimize toxicity and ADME (absorption, distribution, metabolism, excretion) of preclinical drugs and to improve and optimize toxicity of drugs fail in a clinical trial.

There are three key factors that enable Deargen to effectively help stakeholders in developing their products.

First, the people who work for the company are not just highly educated but ethical and have core values in the pharmaceutical industry. Secondly, AI drug discovery platform Dr.UG was born from the state-of-the-art AI technology of Deargen. With experts in deep learning, software, biology, and bioinformatics, it developed highly advanced technology such as a molecular transformer, a novel drug-target interaction predictor, and a reinforcement learning-based molecule generator. Lastly, through regular and thorough discussions, Deargen cooperatively works with stakeholders to check their needs and meet their expectation. “These factors enable us to have unparalleled ability,” mentions Youngchul Daniel Bae, CBO, Deargen. Deargen creates customer-centric strategy and offers customized solutions. “If a customer is focusing on finding substances for a particular target, or finding biomarkers for a particular disease, these processes can be completed through collaboration in the form of a service agreement,” says Bonggun Shin, CAIO, Deargen. The most requested service is to find a target protein for a target disease. This process includes finding hit molecule and lead optimization. “The phase of Hit-to-Lead is progressed in the form of a joint research. If the preclinical research results of the proposed candidate materials need to be included, the data will be presented with collaboration of CRO or research collaboration group,” adds Sungsoo Park, the CTO of Deargen.

Having carved a unique niche through its AI-based platform, Deargen will put effort into upgrading pre-existing highly advanced technologies. “We will recruit more talents and build collaboration with various research institutions and global pharmaceutical companies to take our business internationally,” mentions Youngchul Daniel Bae, CBO, Deargen. Striding ahead, the company is planning to continue to incorporate AI technology into new modalities such as PROTAC and EPITOPE and deriving tangible results with partners. Also, within the next 24 months, using DR.UG platform, the company will secure seven new small molecules targeting cancer, heart failure, hyperlipidemia, and Alzheimer’s disease. “We are sure that DR. UG will reduce significant time for new drug development and increase possibility of success of designing small molecules for new drugs.,” concludes Kilsoo Kang, CEO, Deargen