GSK said it will nominate up to 10 targets for small molecule discovery by Exscienta’s platform, which identifies mono- and bispecific small molecule drugs by phenotypic and high content screening and uses artificial intelligence-driven algorithms to design novel molecules. According to the agreement, GSK will pay all research costs. Additionally, Exscienta can receive up to £33m (€37m) in milestone payments for lead discovery and preclinical development. No further financial details have been disclosed.
In May, Exscientia announced a €250m R&D and licence option agreement with Sanofi in metabolic disease. In April, the company reported progress from its immunoncology discovery collaboration with Evotec AG. It identified a selective adenosine 2A receptor (A2AR) antagonist, and a bispecific small molecule simultaneously antagonising A2AR and blocking CD73. Expression of CD73 on tumour cells and on immunosuppressive cell subsets leads to the generation of adenosine. Adenosine inhibits the biological functions of T lymphocytes infiltrating the tumour by binding to A2AR.
According to Exscienta’s CEO Andrew Hopkins, the deal with GSK ”provides further validation of our AI-driven platform and its potential to accelerate the discovery of novel, high-quality drug candidates. 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.”