Wednesday, April 17, 2024

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Revolution in the drug discovery process in the biotechnology market

Sylwia Ziemacka talks to Janusz Homa, CEO & Co-Founder of Ardigen S.A.

What is Ardigen’s profile? What exactly do you do?

A significant problem in modern pharmaceuticals and biotechnology is the growing cost of discovering and bringing a new drug to market – estimated at $2.6 billion. Conversely, there are many unmet clinical needs that relate to smaller groups of patients. Ardigen believes that AI technologies will enable faster and cheaper Drug Discovery by reducing the number of laboratory experiments and increasing the likelihood of success in the later stages of drug development, especially in clinical trials. Ardigen is revolutionizing Drug Discovery for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies to bring this vision to life.

How can your technology improve people’s lives?

One of the platforms we are working on will allow us to bring personalized medicine to life in the future. This means that therapies will be able to be developed for individual patients, taking into account the specific nature of the disease they suffer from. This approach is particularly important in cancer. Cancer vaccines, or cell therapies such as TCR-T, could be computed by a computer for a specific patient, prepared in a laboratory, and administered to the patient. This personalized procedure could be a solution to creating a cure for cancer.

Who are the founders of Ardigen, and what’s the story behind the foundation of the company?

Everything started in 2015 with my meeting with Pawel Przewiezlikowski, co-founder and then CEO of Selvita (the largest CRO in Central and Eastern Europe). I asked him for his opinion on the Personalized Medicine project. This question resulted in the decision to jointly create Ardigen. I became CEO of the new company. Ardigen, one of the biggest AI & Bioinformatics companies in Europe, is my third company that was successfully built, although my first in biotechnology. Based on my experience and strategic market analysis, I noticed a unique moment in time where we stood at the threshold of another revolution – AI technology. The biotechnology industry has developed technologies that allow for the generation of huge data sets, such as DNA, RNA, and proteome sequencing. The combination of these opportunities, along with the challenges of access to drugs for critically ill patients, was the trigger to invest my own time and capital in Ardigen.

What are your goals, ambitions, and next steps in the company’s development?

Ardigen’s ambition is to be the largest AI CRO (Contract Research Organization) in Europe. Our unique and innovative Drug Discovery process is based on predictions from computational models trained on large amounts of data and analysis from high-throughput experiments. The hypotheses thus generated are then tested in a biological or chemical laboratory, generating additional valuable datasets. The whole thing is closed in the learning AI-Lab Loop ecosystem. We want our customers’ biologists and medical chemists to be able to ask scientific questions and receive reliable answers based on high-quality data. This proposal for biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies will increase the success of their Drug Discovery projects, significantly reducing the cost and time of discovering one drug. Ardigen will move on to more advanced projects involving larger aspects of Drug Discovery, combining computational and lab work.

What’s the position of the company on the international biomedical market?

Ardigen is a pioneer in the global AI in Drug Discovery market. Over the past eight years, we have gained a leading position and are mentioned in most analytical reports describing this young and rapidly growing market (CAGR 42.7%)*. We participate in many industry conferences in the US and Western Europe every year. Our sales offices are located in the largest biotechnology hubs: Cambridge, MA, and South San Francisco, CA. Such an extensive international presence makes the Ardigen brand increasingly recognizable and synonymous with high quality services. We obtain many of our clients through referrals.

Thirteen of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world have placed their trust in us (in addition to many medium-sized biotechnology companies). In 2022, we signed an agreement with the BROAD Institute, joining the elite JUMP-CP consortium, where we are working on AI technologies for image analysis in Drug Discovery alongside such companies as Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Biogen, Eisai, Janssen, Merck KGaA, Pfizer, Servier, and Takeda.

You aim to accelerate Ardigen’s expansion into new markets and strengthen the brand’s position as a leader in the AI-enabled digital transformation in the field of Drug Discovery: How do you aim to achieve this? What type of business partners are you looking for?

The dynamics of AI in the Drug Discovery market mean that we have put significant effort into maintaining our position as leaders, as well as building an increasingly strong position for Ardigen on the global market. We seek to establish increasingly solid, long-term relationships with our clients based on trust, excellent understanding (both from business and scientific perspectives) and total concentration on the goals associated with each Drug Discovery program in which we participate. Another important action is the development of the Ardigen network of partners with whom we can jointly deliver greater value to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. We are seeking synergies in mutual capabilities, so we can offer better solutions on the market.

Sylwia Ziemacka
Sylwia Ziemacka
“I believe our unique selling point is that we focus on what brings us together. Poland Weekly offers something you will not find anywhere else: a truly international and unifying perspective focused on content that builds cooperation and mutual understanding. This attitude doesn't make us naïve, but it allows us to focus on mutual understanding and a search for solutions. There are so many new challenges that we are all facing, such as energy transformation, climate change and supply chain disruption, to name but a few. By working together and sharing good practices, we can achieve so much more.”