Bayer (ETR:BAYN) announced that it is entering into a collaboration agreement with artificial intelligence drug discovery company Exscientia to identify and optimize novel lead structures for potential drug candidates in treating cardiovascular and oncological diseases.
The agreement, announced earlier this month, is slated to see the companies work together on early research projects combining Exscientia’s proprietary AI drug discovery platform with Bayer’s data and drug discovery capabilities. Exscientia is also set to receive up to $266 million (€240 million) in upfront and research payments, as well as near-term and clinical milestones.
According to a news release, the companies believe that AI could potentially accelerate drug discovery and improve drug development quality, cost and cycle time. The collaboration will set out to focus on early-stage research by using an AI-based algorithm to predict potential drug molecules. Excientia’s platform offers novel chemical matter for certain targets and could identify novel drug candidates.
Per the agreement, Bayer retains the rights to any and all novel lead structures developed as part of the collaboration, although Exscientia may also receive sales royalties. Bayer’s pharmaceuticals business development & licensing team facilitated the collaboration, according to the news release.
“We are driving forward digital transformation in R&D as we believe that digital technologies such as AI can simplify and speed up the discovery and development of new drugs for patients,” said Bayer pharmaceuticals division head of R&D & executive committee member Dr. Joerg Moeller said in the release. “The collaboration with Exscientia is expected to help us to achieve project milestones earlier and at the same time accelerate timelines by enabling more precise identification of suitable drug targets and lead structures.”
“We’re delighted to collaborate with Bayer, a globally recognized pharmaceutical company who has already committed significant investment to treating challenging diseases,” added Exscientia CEO Andrew Hopkins. “Since our pioneering Nature papers demonstrated the automated design of small-molecules, we have enhanced our platform and exemplified it commercially, by accelerating the discovery of future drug molecules with partners. We’re excited to now work with Bayer researchers to drive this transformational change in key therapeutic areas.”