Shared platform to use high-throughput biology and AI to accelerate drug discovery

Published: 11-Oct-2017

Recursion Pharmaceuticals, a biotechnology company that combines innovative biological science with artificial intelligence (AI) to discover new disease treatments at scale, has announced the formation of a research collaboration agreement with Takeda Pharmaceutical Company

The research collaboration is intended to rapidly build a rare disease pipeline to leverage Recursion's AI augmented phenotypic discovery platform and Takeda's TAK-celerator programme and chemical libraries.

Under the terms of this collaboration, Recursion will utilise its discovery platform to provide pre-clinical candidates for Takeda's TAK-celerator development pipeline in the next year.

The collaboration is designed to leverage the most advanced high-throughput biology and artificial intelligence techniques to get potential treatments for rare diseases into the clinic more quickly, safely and at lower costs than before.

Recursion augments traditional drug discovery approaches, most prominently phenotypic screening, with artificial intelligence. By modelling thousands of diseases in human cells and capturing hundreds of millions of microscopic images, the company is building the world's largest biological image dataset, currently growing by more than two million new images and 20 TB of data each week.

This highly relatable and comprehensively annotated dataset enables the company to train neural networks and to use other sophisticated computational techniques to identify changes in thousands of cellular and subcellular features in the presence of various biological perturbations.

This approach, which the company dubs Phenomics, enables unbiased discovery of novel biology, drug targets, or drug candidates at an unprecedented scale and pace.

Chris Gibson, co-founder and CEO of Recursion, said: “Takeda's TAK-celerator has demonstrated an unparalleled desire to innovate in the drug discovery and early development space, which aligns perfectly with Recursion's mission.

"We have an ideal opportunity for our innovative technology to add immediate value for both our partner and patients. We are tremendously excited to be working with an industry leader like Takeda."

Takeda's TAK-celerator is designed to operate with the nimbleness and flexibility of a small biotech through external partnerships, whilst being able to leverage the resources of a major pharmaceutical company.

The TAK-celerator partners with industry, academics and venture capital to generate preclinical proof of concept in rare disease indications of high unmet need and then to identify paths forward for these programmes, either through Takeda, or through innovative business models including joint ventures and standalone NewCos.

Dr Tauhid Ali, Head of TAK-celerator for Takeda, said: “This collaboration is an example of Takeda's commitment to investing in emerging technologies to further the development of medicines in rare diseases, within our therapeutic areas of focus where there is an existing unmet need.

We recognise and are excited by the potential of Recursion's discovery platform in that it provides researchers access to all known data about a disease state, enabling better decision-making about which molecules to pursue."

Financial terms of the agreement include an upfront payment and success-based milestones of over $90 m should the collaboration result in multiple new drug approvals and single digit royalty payments on net sales.

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