An artificial intelligence (AI) datathon has led to the identification of five new drug candidates, previously developed to treat other conditions, for chronic pancreatitis, which are now being considered for patient trials by non-profit group Mission: Cure.

These five candidates include lacosamide to target Cathepsin B, dapsone and ibuprofen to target cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator, rolipram and prednisolone to target Tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-a).

The datathon was organised by global analytics business Elsevier and not-for-profit members’ organisation The Pistoia Alliance. Participants applied AI, machine learning and statistical techniques using Elsevier’s Entellect platform to clinical, pharma and biochemical data to identify drugs that could be repurposed to treat chronic pancreatitis.

Different approaches were taken, such as target-based drug discovery, examining the perturbance of a drug on a specific gene known to be disease-modifying and symptomatic-based drug discovery.

The Pistoia Alliance president Dr Steve Arlington said: “The results of the datathon show that by working in unison, we can achieve breakthroughs that will have a real impact on patients’ lives.

“In life sciences today, no one company has the resources to ‘go it alone’. So the datathon was the perfect opportunity to bring all the relevant experts together and pool our knowledge and resources. The results are very promising, and we look forward to seeing these therapies reach those in need.”

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Mission: Cure co-founder and co-director Megan Golden said: “We are very excited about the discoveries made in the Elsevier Entellect/Pistoia Alliance datathon.

“The problem-solving and teamwork focused on chronic pancreatitis was very exciting. We look forward to taking the promising candidates to the next step where we hope they will help us find effective treatments for this difficult, rare disease.”

The full results of the datathon will be announced at The Pistoia Alliance’s AI/ML workshop in mid-March.

Chronic pancreatitis is when the pancreas becomes permanently damaged from inflammation and stops working. It affects approximately one in 2000 people.