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GSK signs up to apply AI to drug discovery

Will work with Exscientia on 10 small molecule targets

AI

GlaxoSmithKline has become the latest big pharma company to explore the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve its efforts in drug discovery.

The company has signed a strategic drug discovery collaboration with Scotland's Exscientia that covers up to ten targets nominated by GSK across multiple therapeutic areas.

John Baldoni, senior vice president, platform science and technology at GSK, said: "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."

The work will use Exscientia's AI-enabled platform to discover novel and selective small molecules that can be further pursued as pre-clinical candidates.

Exscientia will receive research payments to run discovery programmes with the nominated targets, along with near-term lead and pre-clinical candidate milestones if all objectives are achieved, with the AI firm in-line for up to £33m if all ten projects are advanced.

Exscientia, which says it's the first company to "automate drug design", is already working with the likes of Evotec in immuno-oncology and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma and Sunovion Pharmaceuticals in CNS research.

Earlier this year the Scottish company signed a €250m deal with Sanofi to discover and develop double-headed (bispecific) small-molecule drugs that have potential to treat metabolic diseases, with a particular emphasis on finding therapies for diabetes.

Andrew Hopkins, chief executive officer of Exscientia, said: "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."

With the early stages of drug discovery yet to see the benefits that technologies have delivered in other fields, its collaboration with GSK will see Exscientia incentivised to reduce the number of compounds required for synthesis and assay in order to achieve lead and candidate compound goals.

Article by
Dominic Tyer

3rd July 2017

From: Research

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