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UPDATED: 'Big Data' startup wins deal with Aptalis Pharma

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NuMedii has landed a deal with Aptalis Pharma in which the Stanford University spinoff will apply its predictive "Big Data" technology. The companies aim to hunt down and advance drugs to combat gastrointestinal ailments and cystic fibrosis, which are two areas of focus at Aptalis. The deal boosts the commercial credentials of NuMedii, building on the startup's role in a pair of papers last year that showed how its computational method could quickly pair approved and generic drugs with new potential uses against diseases.

In the Aptalis deal, NuMedii says it will do some digital mining to find proprietary therapeutic candidates with improved odds of success in trials. The proprietary candidates will be existing drugs matched with new disease indications, leveraging the existing safety profiles of those compounds to de-risk clinical development, NuMedii CEO Gini Deshpande told FierceBiotech IT. Aptalis, a specialty drugmaker headquartered in New Jersey, will be responsible for taking the drug candidates into the clinic and beyond. NuMedii, co-founded by Stanford medical informatics expert Dr. Atul Butte, will get an upfront fee, milestone payments and potential royalties from Aptalis. The startup isn't saying how much, however.

Aptalis, which makes Rectiv and other products for GI and related issues, might have taken note of Butte's role in a study that applied technology licensed to NuMedii. Published in Science Translational Medicine last year, the study showed how Butte's algorithm used genetic data and drug information to pair the generic anticonvulsant topiramate with an inflammatory bowel disorder called Crohn's disease. Preclinical lab tests have confirmed the drug's efficacy against the condition.  

"NuMedii's predictive Big Data discovery technology and its preclinical de-risking expertise are a great fit with Aptalis' proven capabilities in formulation, clinical development and commercialization of new therapeutics," Deshpande, NuMedii's co-founder, said in a statement.

In an interview, Deshpande said the company is hunting for additional deals with specialty pharma groups as well as partnerships that would enable the company to identify new uses for "shelved" compounds no longer in clinical development. The Aptalis deal is NuMedii's first product-focused partnership with a pharma company, she said. 

NuMedii, founded in 2008, is a small company with some big names in life sciences computing on its scientific advisory board. In addition to Stanford's Butte, the company's scientific advisory board includes Eric Schadt, who is heading the $100 million Big Data and genomics effort at Mount Sinai.

- here's the release

Special Report: Dr. Atul Butte - Fierce's Top 10 Biotech Techies

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Editor's note: Updated with quotes from NuMedii CEO Gini Deshpande.