Year/Course: 2018-2019, Easter 2019

Contact: Dr Alpha Lee, Maxwell Centre
Mentor: Dr. Rosalind Parkes-Ratanshi, Cambridge Institute of Public Health & Ugandan Academy for Health Innovation and Impact

The inventors have developed significant expertise in using machine learning algorithms to identify new drug candidates which can target particular biological processes. The method has been validated against a specific receptor which is implicated in symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease and Schizophrenia, and the inventors would now like to identify new areas where their technique can have the greatest impact.

In the Alzheimer’s case, the algorithm was trained using historic screening results of 222 active and 5223 inactive compounds for this receptor. This model was then used to screen a database of 6 million known compounds, resulting in 4 possible drug candidates to be taken forward into the initial stages of drug development, all of which showed very high levels of affinity for the receptor.

The question for the i-Team is where should the researchers now concentrate their efforts. The focus of the project will be looking at anti-microbials in particular to counter the increasing prevalence of antibiotic resistance. Answering the question will include investigating which bacterial diseases have global strategic interest and are most viable to be funded once initial compounds have been identified. Which countries might be development partners for the technology, and therefore which microbes are the most prevalent? In addition the i-Team will look for areas where there are existing data sources that the inventors can use to help train the algorithm, including knowledge of active and inactive compounds against particular microbes.