Collaboration in bispecific-small-molecule drugs for metabolic disease

€250m agreement between Exscientia and Sanofi is for multiple-product development and licence option

The companies will address challenges in new therapies for metabolic disease, such as diabetes

Exscientia, a company working on AI-driven drug discovery Artificial Intelligence) has agreed a research collaboration and licence option with Sanofi in the area of metabolic disease.

Delivery of new therapies for metabolic disease (such as diabetes) is hampered by a paucity of single targets that are amenable to drug discovery.

To address this challenge, Exscientia will apply its platform to validate combinations of drug targets that could be amenable to the company's bispecific-small-molecule design strategy, whereby a small molecule is designed to be compatible with two distinct drug targets.

The process

Starting with more than a thousand disease-relevant target combinations, Exscientia will triage opportunities and prioritise those with promising bispecific binding potential.

Target pairs fulfilling these initial tractability criteria will pass through to Exscientia’s lead-finding platform to generate bispecific-small-molecule compounds that can further validate the biological hypothesis.

Bispecific small molecules passing all these quality gates may progress to full candidate delivery projects for Sanofi.

Delivery of multiple bispecific opportunities will be driven by Artificial Intelligence and enabled automated design.

Sanofi's role

Exscientia will be responsible for all compound design, while chemistry synthesis will be delivered by Sanofi.

Further assays, preclinical experiments and subsequent trials for compounds progressing to the clinic will be managed by Sanofi, wherever Sanofi exercises the licence option.

The commercial terms for this agreement include the payment of research funding to identify those target pairs with the best combination of chemical compatibility and strong biological relevance, plus further funding for prioritised candidate delivery opportunities.

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