Simulations Plus and the University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute Receive SBIR Grant Funding for Large Molecule Safety Collaboration
Simulations Plus, Inc. (Nasdaq: SLP), a leading provider of modeling and simulation software and services for pharmaceutical safety and efficacy, today announced that its DILIsym Services (DSS) division and the University of Pittsburgh Drug Discovery Institute (UPDDI) have jointly received a Phase I NIH-funded SBIR grant to combine the highly successful DSS software (DILIsym) and UPDDI’s vLAMPS experimental liver model and the microphysiology systems database (MPS-Db) to predict the safety of large (macro) molecules such as proteins that are increasingly used to treat diseases. The first phase of development funded by the grant will include beta version software construction and vLAMPS testing of several large molecules captured in the MPS-Db. Successful completion of the objectives will lead to an application for a larger Phase II grant, which would fully fund the development of the joint commercial offering.
DSS coordinates the DILI-sim Initiative, which is a public-private partnership that has guided development of the DILIsym software package. This software uses properties of drugs to predict their risk of causing liver injury in patients, and is now widely used to support key drug development decisions. To date, this approach has been successfully applied to traditional small molecule drugs. Similarly, the UPDDI has developed the vLAMPS and MPS-Db technologies for other drug development applications. The focus on large molecule safety in an integrated fashion represents an important new direction for both organizations, allowing them to support development of safer large molecule therapeutics.
Dr. Paul B. Watkins, the Director of the Institute for Drug Safety Sciences at University of North Carolina and chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the DILI-sim Initiative, said: “Large molecules, such as monoclonal antibodies, have become the hottest target for drug development. However, these therapeutics are not without liver safety liabilities that are currently very hard to predict. I believe that this collaboration, which received very high priority for funding, will help solve this problem.”
Dr. Brett A. Howell, President of DILIsym Services, added: “The development of novel therapeutics involving larger and more complex molecules is ever-increasing. This collaboration will allow DSS to remain at the forefront of drug safety prediction innovation and expand our product offerings.”
Dr. D. Lansing Taylor, Director of the UPDDI, Distinguished Professor and Allegheny Foundation Professor of Computational and Systems Biology, stated: “The integration of our biomimetic human liver MPS (vLAMPS) with the MPS-Db and DILIsym computational modeling is a powerful application of quantitative systems pharmacology (QSP) to large molecule safety and will advance large molecule safety testing.”