Under the new agreement, the two firms will detect and select target projects using Exscientia’s personalised medicine platform that is said to facilitate a “patient-first” approach by incorporating primary human tissue samples into the early target and drug discovery research
French healthcare company Sanofi has entered into a research collaboration and license deal with Exscientia, an AI-driven pharmatech firm, to develop up to 15 new drug candidates across oncology and immunology using the latter’s AI-driven platform.
As per the latest deal, Sanofi has agreed to pay upfront cash of $100m to Exscientia.
Furthermore, Exscientia will eligible to receive up to about $5.2bn in payments tied to achieving research, translational, clinical development, regulatory, and commercial milestones.
Both firms have been working together since 2016. In 2019, the French drugmaker in-licensed Exscientia’s bispecific small molecule candidate aimed to target two distinct targets in inflammation and immunology.
Sanofi chief scientific officer and research global head Frank Nestle said: “We look forward to deepening our work with Exscientia, a leader in leveraging AI to modernise all aspects of drug discovery and development.
“Sanofi’s collaboration with Exscientia aims to transform how we discover and develop new small molecule medicines for cancer and immune-mediated diseases.
“Application of sophisticated AI and machine learning methods will not only shorten drug discovery timelines, but will also help to design higher quality and better-targeted medicines for patients.”
Under the new agreement, the two firms will partner to detect and select target projects using Exscientia’s personalised medicine platform.
The platform is said to facilitate a “patient-first” approach by incorporating primary human tissue samples into the early target and drug discovery research.
Exscientia said that the approach will allow its scientists to integrate patient, disease, and clinically relevant data into decisions on potential new medicine candidates earlier in the drug development process.
Apart from discovering the target, Exscientia will lead small molecule drug design and lead optimisation activities up to development candidate nomination, while Sanofi will assume the responsibility for preclinical and clinical development, manufacturing and commercialisation.
Exscientia CEO and founder Andrew Hopkins said: “Our AI-driven platform can be leveraged across drug discovery, translational research and development, with applications ranging from improving the precision medicine and quality of drug candidates to enriching for patient selection in clinical trials.
“Our expanded collaboration with Sanofi will utilise the breadth of our platform to test AI-designed drug candidates against patient tissue models, potentially providing far better accuracy than conventional approaches such as mouse models.
“When you consider the change this represents – testing candidates against actual human tissue years before a clinical trial – it’s transformative.”
Exscientia stated that the upfront cash payment of $100m is expected to be reflected in the first quarter of 2022 financial results.