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Disruptive GPCR Lead Discovery Platform Delivering New and Safer Therapeutics

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How can we safely deliver new, high-quality, low-cost therapeutics?

It takes 10-15 years for a new drug to reach patients, involving costs as high as EUR 2.3 billion per drug. An EU-funded project has a solution that will reduce both drug delivery time to market and development costs.



© Paul Scherrer Institute
The high cost of drug development is due to an inefficient drug selection process – only 1 out of 7 drugs that enter clinical trials are approved. Currently available technologies have not succeeded in reducing this high failure rate. What is PICARD? The PICARD platform was developed by InterAx Biotech. Coordinator and CFO Luca Zenone explains: “It is a disruptive drug candidate-discovery platform that integrates a mathematical description of biological systems into drug exploration.” This so-called systems biology approach is a first-of-its-kind technology that allows for advanced drug candidate design and selection. Applicable ad hoc to customer needs, it covers a multitude of drug discovery programmes across all medical indications that are linked to the most important class of drug targets – the G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs).“Moreover, the platform is projected to enhance the efficiency of drug discovery processes by reducing the time-to-market by five years, a reduction of animal testing by 80 % and overall economic savings of at least EUR 150.7 million per drug,” Zenone states. What has the project achieved? Under PICARD, InterAx, the coordinating company, has established a platform that combines cell-based real-time assays and proprietary computational algorithms to enable intelligent drug candidate design targeting GPCRs. InterAx applies mathematical models and simulations to in house-derived experimental data to address the complexity of drug-induced cellular signalling mechanisms. Zenone adds: “As for the commercial aspects of PICARD, we have established a strong network of collaborators and initiated negotiations with potential customers in the industry.” Moreover, a specific intellectual property rights strategy and a commercialisation plan designed to lower entry-to-market barriers has been devised. Zenone sums up: “We conclude that the PICARD platform will be highly profitable, thereby guaranteeing the financial viability of investing in such an innovative technology.” Moving forward “We are applying for Phase 2 of the project,” confirms Zenone, who further states: “We will focus on both, technical and commercial activities.” Within Phase 2, the project will verify the in vivo predictability of the systems biology element of the platform. Furthermore, InterAx will expand the system by implementing machine learning and artificial intelligence as a means to design advanced lead molecules targeting GPCRs. “On the commercial side, we have recently announced our first partnership with the Danish pharma giant Lundbeck A/S and are now focusing on expanding our customer base. Currently, we are in negotiations with two more companies (one in the EU and one overseas). These activities will serve as a verification that our technology is commercially viable,” says Zenone. In addition, the commercial activities include the dissemination and marketing of the platform at both scientifically and strategically relevant conferences and protection of intellectual property rights of the elements of our PICARD platform.


PICARD, GPCR, assays, drug discovery, drug development, PICARD platform, drug candidate, G protein-coupled receptors, Systems biology, artificial intelligence, pharmaceutical industry

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 828219

  • Start date

    1 August 2018

  • End date

    30 November 2018

Funded under:




  • Overall budget:

    € 71 429

  • EU contribution

    € 50 000

Coordinated by: