Cyclica: Streamlining Drug Discovery
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Cyclica: Streamlining Drug Discovery

CIO VendorNaheed Kurji, President & CEO
Drug development is a complex process that often carries uncertainty in its effectiveness because of the influence of various factors such as heterogeneity of the patient population and lack of validated diagnostic and therapeutic biomarkers. Thus, pharmaceutical companies face stiff challenge in assessing the safety and efficacy of the drugs they develop. Cyclica, a Toronto, Canada based company, is focused on making lives easier for scientists in the pharmaceutical industry so that they in turn can makes lives better for the patient. With an aim to provide a holistic view of small molecule drug design and help gain insights on its polypharmacology, Cyclica provides Ligand Express™, a patented, drug-centric, cloud-based computational platform. Ligand Express™ screens a small molecule compound to identify the interactions between drug candidates and all known structurally-characterized proteins. “Our vision is to be an integral utility platform in the pharma R&D value chain by augmenting, not replacing, the valuable efforts ongoing in pharma. Armed with the information provided by Ligand Express™, our clients can make better and faster decisions related to the drugs they need to spend their resources on,” informs Naheed Kurji, President and CEO, Cyclica.

Built to develop safer and more effective therapeutics, Ligand Express™ combines an innovative structure-based proteome-wide screening technology with artificial intelligence to uncover and explain the effects of small-molecule therapeutics. The platform identifies significant protein targets using an innovative structure-based and drug-centric technology, leverages artificial intelligence to determine the drug’s effect on these targets, and visualizes the predicted drug-protein interactome using bioinformatics and systems biology.

Our vision is to be an integral utility platform in the pharma R&D value chain by augmenting, not replacing, the valuable efforts ongoing in pharma. Armed with the information provided by Ligand Express™, our clients can make better and faster decisions related to the drugs they need to spend their resources on


Through a Software-as-a-Service business model, Ligand Express has emerged as a scalable solution for pharmaceutical companies to achieve a comprehensive panoramic view of small molecule that offers in-depth knowledge about its polypharmacology. By using Ligand Express, scientists can glean insights into the “on-” and “off-target” profiles of a small molecule, which can help elucidate mechanism-of-action, prioritize lead candidates, understand side effects, as well as determine new uses for existing drugs. For instance, in a scleroderma drug research held at the Tulane University, Ligand Express™ identified a protein pathway that was modulated upon treatment of an FDA approved drug. These results indicated that this drug could be repurposed for the treatment of another disease.

Cyclica envisions major geographical expansion to take the impact of its technology to the corners of the world. The company currently has clients in the United States (U.S.), Canada, Brazil, and China, is focused on strengthening their position in those markets by the end of 2017, and is planning to expand their presence in other strategic geographies over the coming quarters. Additionally, Cyclica endeavors to expand their physical presence in the U.S. enabling pharma companies to enhance drug discovery through predictive analytics.