Pre-clinical collaboration focused on up to 10 targets nominated by GSK
University of Dundee spin-out company Exscientia, have announced that it has entered into a strategic drug discovery collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). During this collaboration, Exscientia, an innovative company at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery will apply its AI enabled platform and combine this with the expertise of GSK, in order to discover novel and selective small molecules for up to 10 disease-related targets, nominated by GSK across multiple therapeutic areas.
Exscientia will receive research payments from GSK to undertake new discovery programmes with nominated targets with the goal of delivering pre-clinical candidates. In addition to research funding, Exscientia is eligible to receive near-term lead and pre-clinical candidate milestones if all objectives are achieved. The total amount payable by GSK to Exscientia on achieving these milestones is £33 million, if all 10 projects are advanced. No further financial details have been disclosed.
Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia and Chair of Medicinal Informatics and SULSA Research Professor of Translational Biology in the School of Life Sciences, said: ”This agreement with GSK is the second we have signed in recent months with a top global pharma company. The alliance provides further validation of our AI-driven platform and its potential to accelerate the discovery of novel, high-quality drug candidates. Applying our approach to client discovery projects has already delivered candidate-quality molecules in roughly one-quarter of the time, and at one-quarter of the cost of traditional approaches. Our intention therefore is to apply these capabilities to projects selected by GSK. Delivering efficiencies to drug discovery has the potential to revolutionise the way early projects are executed, enabling more dynamic target selections from the burgeoning set of opportunities. We look forward to a productive collaboration with GSK.”
John Baldoni, Senior Vice President, Platform Science and Technology at GSK, added: “Exscientia has built an excellent team with proven innovation in drug discovery technologies. We anticipate that their industry-leading approach will accelerate the discovery of new molecules against high value GSK targets with speed and confidence, and without compromising quality.”
As part of this collaboration, Exscientia is incentivised to reduce the number of compounds required for synthesis and assay in order to achieve lead and candidate compound goals. This is in response to observations that early stages of drug discovery have not been positively impacted by technologies that have delivered significant efficiencies to other fields. Exscientia will apply both its ‘Big Data’ resources comprising, among other things, medicinal chemistry and large-scale bio-assays, and its AI-driven algorithms to design novel molecules that fulfil the requirements of the lead and candidate criteria.
Notes for editors
Exscientia is at the forefront of Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery and design. By fusing the power of AI with the discovery experience of seasoned drug hunters, we are the first company to automate drug design, surpassing conventional approaches. Our innovative platform enables breakthrough productivity gains as well as new approaches to improve drug efficacy.
Novel compounds prioritised for synthesis by Exscientia’s AI systems simultaneously balance potency, selectivity and pharmacokinetic criteria in order to deliver successful experimental outcomes. By applying a rapid design-make-test cycle, the Exscientia AI system actively learns from the preceding experimental results and rapidly evolves compounds towards the desired candidate criteria.
Exscientia first developed their platform to design efficacious, selective single-target compounds, whilst further innovation now allows the same platform to design small molecules with dual pharmacology, as well as more complex target product profiles guided by high content phenotypic data.
Exscientia is now collaborating with several leading pharmaceutical companies. Current partners include Evotec (immuno-oncology), Sanofi (metabolic disease), Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals (CNS) and GSK.
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