UCI-based startup intends to shorten drug discovery path to address complex diseases of aging
Irvine, Calif., July 20, 2017— Irvine, CA. University of California, Irvine Applied Innovation announced the launch of Lyceum Pharmaceuticals, a company with the goal of quickly developing more powerful pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects to treat the chronic diseases of aging. Lyceum’s novel approach is based on a large collection of outbred fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) populations that can address the reproducibility problem in drug development, to enable validation of research studies earlier in the pipeline, reducing drug development time and costs. Lyceum has exclusively licensed the fly populations from UCI Applied Innovation for use in scientific and commercial drug development. The University of California has taken an equity stake in the company.
“We have been publishing world-class genomics since 2010,” said Larry Cabral, Ph.D., Lyceum co-founder and CEO. “Our particular focus has been parsing entire genomes for the key determinants of aging and its associated chronic diseases. Lyceum is also developing new statistical approaches to determining the most important genomic sites and pathways underlying chronic diseases. With our animal resources and our genomic information, we have great inferential power for determining the biological foundations of chronic diseases, as well as for drug discovery.”
By using multiple outbred populations of animal models, Lyceum can conduct the large scale experiments needed to overcome the statistical problems of dealing with genomes that vary at more than a million locations. Lyceum’s research animals provide robust signals for the study of specific organs and their diseases, such as heart disease.
“We are excited about the launch of Lyceum, another startup originating from UCI’s strengths in biomedical research.” says Casie Kelly, Ph.D., assistant director of licensing at UCI Applied Innovation. “Their approach addresses the problem of reproducibility of clinical studies faced by the pharmaceutical industry. This is the sort of high-impact research that could help lower the industry drug attrition rate, and help bring drugs to patients more quickly and at lower cost.”
Rethinking research organisms: UCI Drosophila
Biomedical research depends on model organisms like fruit flies. A serious problem in early stage drug discovery is lack of reproducibility. “Inbred model organisms have led the pharmaceutical industry astray,” says Michael Rose, Ph.D., Lyceum Pharmaceuticals co-founder and UCI professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. “When organism populations are inbred from small, contained populations, they accumulate unpredictable mutations, making study results challenging to reproduce. There is also an issue of applying conclusions based on inbred organisms with unpredictable mutations to humans, which are outbred and diverse.”
Lyceum’s Drosophila populations were developed in the labs of Rose and UCI Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Laurence Mueller over the course of four decades. Unlike nearly all other research animals, these Drosophila populations are not inbred. Like humans, these Drosophila have large genetically diverse populations, and are physiologically robust. These populations have been extensively characterized functionally, physiologically, and genomically, making them an ideal starting point for pharma R&D.
About Lyceum Pharmaceuticals
Lyceum is dedicated to the development of more effective pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects. The company is building new biological tools based on genomics, experimental evolution, and statistical learning to address the complex multifactorial diseases of aging. For more information, visit: http://www.lyceum.life