Current Research

Identifying drugs that can be repurposed to fight COVID-19 pandemic

Image 1. Overview of pipeline from drug candidate identification to clinical trial recommendation.

We have leveraged our AI software, mediKanren, to quickly identify drug candidates that target host and viral proteins key to COVID-19 infection. We then model drug-protein interactions using in-silico docking simulations to rank candidates that are then screened in in-vitro cell culture and human lung-organoid models of SARs-CoV-2. Drug candidates that show benefit in the prevention of SARs-CoV-2 are then recommended to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for consideration for clinical trial. One successful drug candidate, degarelix, recommended by our team, began in clinical trials across the nation in June, 2020. Working off of evidence from observational studies from within the Mount Sinai Health Systems, we have centered our focus to examine at the molecular level how prophylactic anti-coagulation therapy can decrease thromboembolic events and reduce mortality in patients hospitalized with SARs-CoV-2.

Image 2. Key steps in viral replication and pathogenesis targeted by hypothesized drug candidates.

Finding therapeutic options for patients with rare-genetic disorders

Image 3. Steps of the precision medicine workflow from analyzing genetic test reports to clinical intervention.

Starting from a genetic test result, we use bioinformatics and AI tools to hypothesize impacts of patient’s individual genetic variants and suggest FDA-approved, readily available drug candidates to reduce variant impacts. Our aim is to use scientific evidence to develop hypotheses based on a patient’s unique genetic variant and work with the patient’s physicians to develop an individualized therapeutic strategy or patient-guided standard of care.

In cases where there is little to no information available on the function of the particular gene/protein impacted we partner with research scientists to develop patient-guided models of disease, which can be used to screen drugs and collect evidence that will be useful to strategize treatment options.

Table 1. Selected list of patient-guided animal models in development for rare-genetic disorder cases. Some zebrafish models were developed as part of our freshman undergraduate molecular genetics course (for more information see our Education tab).

In collaboration with the Undiagnosed Disease Network, we also work to develop tools, connect communities of patients, and strategize individual cases to assist patients and families on their diagnostic odyssey.

Precision Oncology and diabetes at UAB

Working closely with physicians at the UAB, we are exploring how we can use our tools to more precisely diagnose and treat patients with cancer and diabetes. Although common, these diseases can present in complex ways within an individual and determining the best treatment options to acutely treat an individual’s disease can result in optimal health outcomes. By considering all the variables (lifestyle, behavior, environment, and genetics), unique to an individual patient, we can approach treatment systematically and integrate all factors to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disease tailored to an individual patient.

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