A data driven expert system for toxicological read across

Development of a new drug currently takes 10 - 12 years with costs of around 2 billion EUR. Main reasons for failures comprise lack of efficacy and unforeseen toxicity. For the latter, a standard process pursued to minimise the risk is the so-called toxicological read across. Briefly, toxicologists query the available literature and databases for compounds, which are structurally similar to their development candidate in order to retrieve information on potential hazards. In our large-scale collaborative industry-academia EU-projects, which aim at the development of computational approaches for toxicity prediction, we realised that this is done by manual searches. This is time consuming and prone to errors such as overlooking safety alerts.

With ToxPHACTS we integrate our expertise in computational toxicology and semantic data integration to offer an expert system which will help pharmaceutical companies to foresee possible toxicity of new development candidates. In contrast to the current process for toxicological read across, ToxPHACTS

  • uses innovative ways of similarity searching, such as bioisosteric similarity
  • allows complex queries across multiple, semantically integrated data sources, such as the Open PHACTS Discovery Platform
  • provides advanced visualisation tools for rapid and easy analysis of read across search results

ToxPHACTS thus combines highly innovative similarity searching with the power of semantically integrated life science data. This brings toxicological read across to the desktop of every toxicologist, allowing them to focus on the analysis of the results rather than wasting a lot of time for searching. With its cutting-edge search and analysis tools, ToxPHACTS will help to save time, to save money and to save animals.

ToxPHACTS will be provided by Phenaris GmbH, a spin-off from the Pharmacoinformatics Research Group at the University of Vienna, headed by Prof. Dr. Gerhard Ecker. PHENARIS was founded as company with limited liability in May 2018. Further team members are Dr. Melanie Grandits, specialist for cluster architecture, Anika Dangl, MA, project manager, StB Florian Ecker, MSc tax advisor, and Johanna Lawrence, BA, Marketing and Design. The Pharmacoinformatics Research group is currently partner in four large collaborative industry-academia EU-projects and thus we have a strong network of industry scientists comprising personal contacts to leading scientists in 10+ large pharmaceutical companies. In the framework of the INiTS Startup Camp (Viennese startup incubator), the team has already performed a set of client interviews and produced a lash-up of ToxPHACTS. A first web-based prototype of ToxPHACTS is supposed to be released by end of 2018.

Our main motivation for going ahead with ToxPHACTS is the excitement about translating our scientific research ideas to real products, which assist the development of new safe medicines and lead to a considerable reduction of animal experiments.

This video was produced with financial support from WTZ Ost