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Drug Discovery and AI Collaborations

The tail end of 2023 saw a proliferation of collaborations at the cutting edge of the AI-driven drug discovery field.

Absci and AstraZeneca

Absci, a frontrunner in generative AI antibody discovery, partnered with biopharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca to leverage AI in the quest for a novel cancer treatment. The collaboration encompasses an upfront commitment, substantial R&D funding, milestone payments, and royalties on future product sales.

Absci’s Integrated Drug Creation platform combines generative AI and scalable wet-lab technologies, generating proprietary data by scrutinising millions of protein-protein interactions. This data fuels Absci’s proprietary AI models, facilitating the design of antibodies that are later validated through wet-lab experiments. This accelerated approach, completing the entire cycle within approximately six weeks, enhances the probability of successful development outcomes for biologic drug candidates.  

Evommune and Accutar Biotechnology Inc

The collaboration - further demonstrating how AI can be used to revolutionise drug discovery - follows hot on the heels of the strategic partnership between Evommune Inc. and Accutar Biotechnology Inc. announced late November. The agreement, focused on the discovery of novel small molecule drug candidates in chronic inflammatory diseases, will leverage Accutar's proprietary AI platform as well as Evommune's expertise in the design and development of novel oral small molecule treatments against targets that are the root cause of chronic immune-mediated inflammatory diseases.  

Exscientia and Merck KGaA

The news followed Exscientia’s announcement of a partnership with Merck KGaA focused on the discovery of novel small molecule drug candidates across oncology, neuroinflammation and immunology; it will utilise Exscientia’s AI-driven precision drug design and discovery capabilities while leveraging Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s disease expertise in oncology and neuroinflammation, clinical development capabilities and global footprint.

Exscientia is an AI-driven precision medicine company committed to discovering, designing and developing the best possible drugs in the fastest and most effective manner. Exscientia developed the first-ever functional precision oncology platform to successfully guide treatment selection and improve patient outcomes in a prospective interventional clinical study, as well as to progress AI-designed small molecules into the clinical setting. 

Ono Pharmaceuticals and Adimab LLC

The Exscientia/Merck agreement was announced at around the same time as Ono Pharmaceutical’s drug discovery collaboration with Adimab, LLC, the global leader in the discovery and optimization of fully human monoclonal and bispecific antibodies, to discover and develop innovative antibody drugs in the oncology field.

PharmEnable Therapeutics and Sosei Heptares

And in October, PharmEnable Therapeutics, a UK drug discovery company, and Sosei Heptares, the international biopharmaceutical company, expanded their 2021 collaboration agreement to apply their respective technologies to drive novel drug discovery for a second neurological disease target. The companies will jointly conduct and share the costs of the discovery and the development programme and will co-own any resulting products equally.