We could design medicines targeting the full cellular and molecular complexity of disease to dramatically improve the success rate of drug discovery and of curing disease?
By digitizing biology and drug action, Cellarity can harness the molecular networks controlling cell behaviors in a wide array of diseases and uncover potent new medicines to direct them with unprecedented speed.
Cellarity is a first-of-its-kind therapeutics company that is discovering and developing medicines by studying and altering cell behaviors. Founded in 2017 in Flagship Labs, Flagship's innovation foundry, Cellarity has developed a broad platform harnessing single-cell technologies and machine learning to unveil the network state of a given cell, defining the cell's behavior. Cellarity's platform digitizes and quantifies cellular behaviors, unravels the network dynamics that govern those behaviors, and generates medicines that can direct them. With the unique ability to discover drugs based on cellular behavior, Cellarity is dramatically increasing the success rate and speed of drug discovery.
Cellarity's Pioneering Origins
Cellarity's story began several years ago, when Flagship became interested in the prospect of using computation to target the full complexity of disease and to accelerate medical breakthroughs. Cellarity's founders appreciated that cells—the fundamental units of life—are evolved, dynamic systems that possess diverse and interconnected networks critical to human health. The state of the molecular network defines a cell's behavior, and a given cell type can display a multitude of behaviors. Many diseases are the result of altered cellular behaviors within a tissue. Cellarity is the first to use this insight to quantitatively characterize changes in cellular behaviors for a given disease and discover drugs that can course-correct them to a state of health.
In other fields—where the complexity of systems surpasses the human capacity for comprehension—computation has been used to discover governing principles in dynamic and high-dimensional data sets. In biology, not only can machine learning reveal these principles, it can also generate accurate predictions for how to control them to accelerate medical breakthroughs.
"For years, our Flagship Labs team appreciated that biological processes and diseases operate at the level of networks, and they therefore explored better ways to characterize disease and discover effective drugs," says Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of Flagship Pioneering. "Recent AI and biology advances allow us to investigate this question in unprecedented ways. Cellarity has shown that not only can we embrace this complexity, but in fact we can also harness it to enable direct lead and drug generation, obviating the need for random screening paradigms."
Led by Cellarity's founding CEO and Flagship Pioneering Partner Avak Kahvejian, Ph.D., and co-founder and Senior Associate Nick Plugis, Ph.D., a team of entrepreneurial scientists leveraged cutting-edge, fit-for-purpose data and novel machine learning algorithms to reveal that individual cells have diverse, connected, and fluid behaviors that drive health and disease. By understanding the molecular networks that govern these behaviors, we can rapidly design new medicines to control them. This new paradigm shifts the frame of reference for discovering therapeutics from a single target protein or pathway to one that is simultaneously molecular, cellular, phenotypic, organismal, and clinical.
"To fulfill the Flagship Pioneering vision for Cellarity, we've brought together a stellar interdisciplinary team of experts in therapeutics development, network biology, AI, and technology," says Dr. Kahvejian. "At Cellarity, we have leveraged our novel approach and vantage point to create a powerful, generalizable platform for therapeutics discovery—one that integrates cell and network biology from human and animal samples, and tissue culture systems, and allows for clearer translatability. The potential impact on human health is already clear as we apply our platform to a range of disease indications."
Re-architecting Therapeutic Discovery
The Cellarity platform integrates the company's physical laboratory and its digital twin, the Cellarium™. The Cellarium maps biological connections to AI-generated cell behavior screening to rapidly identify and explore new therapeutic hypotheses. This information is captured in Cellarity Maps™—digital guides that allow for cross-species, cross-disease, and cross-therapeutic interpretation of cell behavior biology. Cellarity has demonstrated that these computationally derived hypotheses can alter disease states in animal models and is preparing to move multiple programs to the clinic.
Founded by Flagship Pioneering, Cellarity is the first company developing medicines through an understanding of cell behaviors. The company's broad platform harnesses single-cell technologies and machine learning to digitize and quantify cellular behaviors, unravel the network dynamics that govern those behaviors, and generate medicines that can direct them. Cellarity is using its platform to design medicines targeting the full cellular and molecular complexity of disease, enabling a quantum leap in the success rate and speed of drug discovery.