Prof Niall English and Peter Doyle, BioSimulytics

BioSimulytics wins UCD 2019 start-up of the year award

Start-up's platform to revolutionise drug modelling
Prof Niall English and Peter Doyle, BioSimulytics

28 November 2019

BioSimulytics has won the 2019 UCD Start-Up of the Year Award.

The aim of the annual UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme, held at NovaUCD, is to support the creation and launch of sustainable and profitable new start-ups emerging from the University.

BioSimulytics is developing a software solution which only requires the basic 2D structure of a compound to accurately predict the detailed profiles of all its polymorphic forms, ranked by the most stable, with full certainty achieved within weeks, resulting in a 20-50% time saving on the current experimentation method. To do this the platform uses a powerful combination of molecular chemistry, quantum physics, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing.




Drug molecules are manufactured in their crystal structure but these structures are complicated by polymorphism, the ability of a compound to exist in more than one stable crystalline structure.

A simple ice molecule for example has 18 stable structures; drug molecules, which are considerably more complex compounds, can have hundreds of stable structures. In addition, a polymorph may change to a more thermodynamically stable form hours, weeks and even years later depending on conditions.

Polymorphic forms of a drug have different properties and can also differ in drug outcomes such as efficacy and toxicity. Finding and re-producing the precise and stable crystal structure of a new drug is essential, and is required for regulatory compliance as well as patent protection. It is an incredibly complex puzzle for drug manufacturers to solve, as out of tens of thousands of compounds only one may become a new drug suitable for patient use.

Currently experimentation is the method used by drug manufacturers to identify the correct crystal structure of a new drug. This is painstaking manual work which may take months to complete, and, in the end, the drug scientists may still be left wondering if all polymorphic structures were indeed identified.

The members of the BioSimulytics team, a start-up emerging from the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering are, Prof Niall English, Dr Christian Burnham, Dr Pralok Samanta and commercial lead Peter Doyle.

Tom Flanagan, director of enterprise & commercialisation, UCD, said: “University College Dublin is strongly committed to delivering impact from its research and innovation activities, a key driver of a dynamic and robust economy. Through the UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme we support the UCD community to deliver such impact by helping them accelerate the establishment of new start-up companies with global market potential.”

In addition to the 2019 UCD Start-up of the Year Award, BioSimulytics was presented with a cheque for €10,000 sponsored by AIB, and a professional services package to the value of €10,000 sponsored by Bryan Maguire Business Consulting and Deloitte. The overall winner will also receive incubation space at NovaUCD to the value of €12,000.

The other participants on this year’s programme were Branca Bunus, Cara Rehab; iBrux, Minan Technologies; PicoGlaze and Zipp Mobility.

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