Exscientia and Sanofi establish AI-based research collaboration

7-Jan-2022

The companies will collaborate to identify and select target projects, leveraging Exscientia’s personalised medicine platform, designed to enable a patient-first approach

Sanofi and Exscientia have announced a research collaboration and license agreement to develop up to 15 novel small molecule candidates across oncology and immunology, leveraging Exscientia’s end-to-end AI-driven platform utilising actual patient samples. The companies have been working together since 2016 and in 2019, Sanofi in-licensed Exscientia’s novel bispecific small molecule candidate capable of targeting two distinct targets in inflammation and immunology.

“We look forward to deepening our work with Exscientia, a leader in leveraging AI to modernize all aspects of drug discovery and development,” said Frank Nestle, Global Head of Research and CSO, Sanofi. “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.”

The companies will collaborate to identify and select target projects, leveraging Exscientia’s personalised medicine platform, designed to enable a patient-first approach through integrating primary human tissue samples into early target and drug discovery research. This means the company’s scientists can integrate patient, disease, and clinically relevant data into decisions on potential medicine candidates earlier in the drug creation process. In addition to target discovery, Exscientia will lead drug design and lead optimisation up to development candidate nomination, with Sanofi taking over for the development, manufacturing and commercialisation stages.

“It is immensely exciting to collaborate with Sanofi with our goal of realizing the full potential of AI to deliver the next generation of cancer and immunology medicines,” said Andrew Hopkins, DPhil, CEO and founder of Exscientia. “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.”

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Under the terms of the agreement, Exscientia will receive an upfront cash payment of $100m from Sanofi and will be eligible to receive future milestone payments of up to approximately $5.2bn in aggregate. In the case that Sanofi commercializes a therapeutic from the collaboration, Exscientia will also be eligible to receive royalties on product.

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