AI for longevity: Insilico Medicine, SRW Laboratories to apply tech for new nutraceutical products

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

Insilico Medicine uses AI to find out the various pathways associated with the disease development and the types of natural compounds that could affect the pathways positively. © Getty Images
Insilico Medicine uses AI to find out the various pathways associated with the disease development and the types of natural compounds that could affect the pathways positively. © Getty Images

Related tags AI Artificial intelligence Innovation precision nutrition

Artificial intelligence (AI) drug discovery specialists Insilico Medicine is working with New Zealand outfit SRW Laboratories to use its technology to develop new longevity nutraceutical products.

The first project of the partnership will focus on developing next-generation anti-ageing and longevity nutraceuticals.

Speaking to NutraIngredients-Asia, ​Greg Macpherson, founder of Auckland-based SRW Laboratories, said that the first project sought to create the next-gen versions of the company’s existing Cel1​, Cel2​, and Cel3 ​products targeted at cellular health. Another plan could be simplifying the existing range from three to two products.

“We've got our first-generation products which are Cel1​, Cel2​, and Cel3​, and others in this will be the next generation of products and we may simplify them down to just two products.

“We're just working through that right now, and that just makes it easier for someone in their 60s to take two products instead of three.”

At the heart of the partnership is using AI to assess all the pathways associated with ageing and looking at all ingredients that interact with those pathways and create new products. The existing products are developed based on insights from literature review.

Insilico Medicine is known for its Pharma.AI platform for new drug discovery and the company is using the same platform for its partnership with SRW Laboratories.

Insilico Medicine also runs a 24-7, fully automated laboratory powered on AI in Suzhou, China, for new drug discovery.

The process of developing new nutraceuticals using its AI platform could be broken down into two parts.

The first is using the platform to identify different mechanisms and pathways associated with ageing-related diseases.

This is followed by assessing how different compounds could affect the pathways through cell model experiments.

“Ultimately, we want to understand what drives the changes from the young to old and what could be done to alleviate some of the old phenotype features or perhaps even bring them closer to the younger state,”​ Dr Alex Aliper, president of Insilico Medicine, told us.

He said that the company’s Pharma.AI platform was trained on millions of omics samples, transcriptomics, and genomics data to identify all causal mechanisms and causal drivers of a disease or process.

“In this context, the platform is specifically designed to apply to decipher the transition from the young state to the old state of the cells of organs and use multi-omics data to decipher at which state it could prioritise therapeutic targets,”​ he said.

Therapeutic target is typically a protein found in human body and exhibits a specific performance function.

The company would also explore granular, pathway level processes in addressing all the hallmarks of ageing.

“Ageing is a multifactorial process, and you need to go after it in a very smart way,”​ he pointed out. 

After identifying the different processes, the next step is to identify the molecules and compounds that are efficacious in making a positive impact.

This is again conducted using a multi-omics data library containing data on natural compounds and have been profiled on various cell types. 

“For instance, if there is a specific driver that is upregulated in the old phenotype which we have nominated as a main candidate target, we will be looking for compounds which will downregulate or inhibit this target and its associated pathways and bring it closer to the normal state or to be like the younger state,”​ he explained.

The team will then validate the effects of the compound through cell model experiments. This could be done by treating a particular cell type with a natural product compound in different concentrations and measuring the outcome throughout the different time periods of the experiments.

SRW Laboratories is expecting to launch the new products created with Insilico Medicine in August or September this year.

“We're just locking down the final formula now, but it will take that long for us to secure all the ingredients and test what we're doing and then manufacture the products ready for the market,” ​said Macpherson.

Precision preventive health care

Aside from next-gen longevity products, SRW Laboratories also plans to develop new products for specific health areas across neurological, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal health further down the road.

With advancements in diagnostics, Macpherson said that the industry was starting to understand how different tissues age, and this could open doors for precision preventative health care.

“We could create a formula that's designed for you, which for example, could bring your organs back to the [biological] age where it should be. This to me is precision preventative health care.”

He believes that this approach could also possibly prevent the development of certain diseases. 

“This is an exciting area now that we can start to understand how different tissue ages and organ ages. I'm keen to look at how we could develop interventions that can support a healthy organ before there is a problem with it.”

AI to change the landscape?

Dr Aliper believes that AI has the potential in accelerating new nutraceuticals product development.

“The profiling, speed, and timeline to get natural products out in the market would be significantly shortened because we have rapid AI modelling, which is typically very fast, and so you do not need to spend years on the process.

“Second, we also have our fully automated robotics lab, which I think is one of the core elements of drug discovery innovation, because automation is coming into every industry and is disrupting every industry,”​ he said. 

It is not the first time Insilico Medicine has developed nutraceuticals using AI.  

Back in 2016, the company partnered with Life Extension in identifying novel biomarkers of human ageing using big data analytics and artificial intelligence, with the goal of nutrient formulation discovery to support health and longevity.

A key difference today is that the company now has a larger database and library for new product development.

Other than nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals, the company is also leveraging its AI platform for other industries, such as working with agriculture firm Syngenta Crop Protection to develop new and more effective crop protection solutions.

It is also working with oil and gas company Aramco for sustainable fuels and materials development.

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