Cyclica, a biotech company that is unlocking the protein universe to discover the medicines of tomorrow, is developing new, non-hormonal contraceptives for low-data biological protein targets with support from a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The CAD$2.4M (USD$1.8M) grant enables Cyclica to apply its validated, AI-enabled drug discovery platform towards the discovery of expanded contraceptive options.

To date, research on discovering non-hormonal contraceptive agents has been hindered by a dearth of validated and enabled drug targets. While there are a small set of targets with sufficient supporting biological data and technical feasibility to warrant substantial investment, there are a set of less mature and emerging targets where the availability of new chemical starting points would enable novel robust target assessment and biological investigation. Here, Cyclica aims to have a big impact, since its platform is optimized for drug discovery against low-data drug targets.

“While Cyclica builds and advances a commercial portfolio of drug discovery programs, it is part of our corporate ethos to work alongside nonprofit organizations to advance research for unmet medical needs,” said Naheed Kurji, CEO of Cyclica. “Among women who want to delay or avoid pregnancy, concerns about side effects are the most common reason they give for not using modern contraception. We are honored to have received support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work towards discovering new, hormone-free contraceptives that will expand the range of contraceptive options available to women and girls.”

“Cyclica has a track record of success in the low-data target area for unmet clinical needs. We have the experience needed to tackle this currently undrugged, high-need opportunity, and progress it to the clinic on a faster and less costly trajectory than that offered by traditional methods,” said Mike Palovich, chief science officer of Cyclica. “I’m impressed by the level of domain expertise within the BMGF scientific team, and we’re looking forward to collaborating with them toward this shared goal.”

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