Healx commits $20 million to launch Rare Treatment Accelerator programme; Appoints Dr Bruce Bloom as Chief Collaboration Officer to lead initiative
Cambridge, UK – 21 November 2019 – Healx, the AI-powered and patient-inspired technology company specialising in treatments for rare diseases, today announces that applications are now being accepted for its Rare Treatment Accelerator (RTA). The programme focuses on finding new treatments for rare diseases by partnering with selected rare disease patient groups to leverage the significantly accelerated process of drug repurposing, thanks to Healx’s AI platform. Healx intends to invest up to the value of $1 million in AI and drug discovery resources per disease project, out of the total budget of $20 million. The company has also appointed Dr Bruce Bloom, DDS, JD, as Chief Collaboration Officer (CCO) to lead the programme.
Dr Bloom will be responsible for overseeing Healx’s existing collaborations and seeking out new global partnership opportunities with a wide range of organisations, including rare disease patient groups, research institutions, investigators and clinical groups.
Dr Bloom has over 40 years of experience in the healthcare industry and joins from Cures Within Reach (CWR), where he was Founder, President and Chief Scientific Officer from 2005, becoming its CEO in 2017. During his 14-year tenure, CWR enabled more than a dozen repurposed therapies to reach and impact patients.
Partnerships are fundamental to Healx’s mission to accelerate the translation of repurposed therapies towards the clinic. The company’s Healnet AI platform, combined with the expertise of their in-house drug discovery team and the unparalleled rare disease knowledge and skills offered by their partners, has allowed Healx to progress projects from treatment prediction stage towards clinical trial phase in a timeframe of 24 months.
The company has been working with a number of patient groups since 2014 including its partnership with the FRAXA Research Foundation to develop new treatments for fragile X syndrome, the leading genetic cause of autism. A clinical study with its drug candidates for this indication is planned for the first quarter of 2020, underlining the speed at which Healx’s AI approach can accelerate candidates into human clinical trials.
In line with its strategy, applications are now open for Healx’s RTA programme, which was launched last month alongside the closing of its $56 million Series B financing. In total, Healx has committed $20 million, over the next two years, for investing in partnerships through the RTA, with no financial contribution required from patient groups.
In his role as CCO, Dr Bloom will be responsible for the RTA programme. This unique initiative aims to harness the power of AI to accelerate drug repurposing in order to address the unmet medical needs in a variety of rare diseases, including rare oncological and rare neurological diseases. Patient groups working in the rare diseases sector can now apply to be considered for the programme. The deadline for applications is 10 January 2020.
Commenting on his appointment, Dr Bruce Bloom, said: “In today’s world, prioritising patient needs is vital. This is what attracted me to Healx. 95% of rare diseases, afflicting 400 million people worldwide, currently do not have approved treatments and Healx’s Rare Treatment Accelerator programme provides great promise to significantly reducing this number, in part by expediting the often-lengthy drug discovery process. I’m eager to bring my passion for repurposing and facilitating research projects harnessing patient power to support Healx’s mission.”
Dr Tim Guilliams, Healx Co-Founder and CEO added: “Bruce has been involved with Healx as a scientific advisor since the early stages. He has witnessed our progress as we built up our knowledge base and generated a robust pipeline of rare disease assets across a number of therapeutic areas. His values absolutely align with our patient-first vision to provide affordable, effective treatments to as many rare disease patients as possible. We are also excited about our innovative RTA programme, headed up by Bruce, which will allow close collaboration with those who probably know the most about rare diseases – patient groups.”
About Dr Bruce Bloom
Dr Bruce Bloom founded Cures Within Reach (CWR) in 2005 and became its CEO in 2017. The non-profit organisation facilitates collaborations between researchers, funders and biotech companies in order to initiate repurposing projects. Dr Bloom has been a Science Advisor at the rare diseases charity, Findacure, and an Ashoka Fellow since 2009.
Prior to CWR, he was President and CSO at Goldman Philanthropic Partnerships, as well as serving on a wide variety of medical research boards in the US and other countries. Dr Bloom holds a Juris Doctor of Law degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology, a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a joint biology degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and University of Stirling.
Healx is an AI-powered and patient-inspired technology company, accelerating the discovery and development of rare disease treatments. Their AI drug discovery platform leverages public and proprietary biomedical data and features the world’s leading knowledge graph for rare diseases. Combining their technology with patient insight and drug discovery expertise, Healx’s mission is to advance 100 rare disease treatments towards the clinic by 2025.
About Healx’s Rare Treatment Accelerator
The Rare Treatment Accelerator (RTA) is a partnering programme that offers rare disease patient groups and Healx the opportunity to work together to quickly discover and develop repurposed treatments for rare diseases using artificial intelligence (AI). Healx and selected applicants will combine their AI technology, data, disease and drug discovery expertise to develop novel repurposed therapies and move them towards the clinic within an expected timeframe of 24 months – with Healx contributing up to the value of $1 million in AI and drug discovery resources per project. For more information, please visit: healx.io/rare-treatment-accelerator.