Exscientia, the world-leading Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery company, today announced that Sanofi has exercised its option to progress an innovative Bispecific Small molecule project it discovered as part of its new modality collaboration. The novel, first-in-class, bispecific investigational small molecule targets two distinct, biologically validated pathways related to inflammation and the progression of fibrosis.
Commenting on this relationship, Andrew Hopkins (CEO, Exscientia) said: “We are delighted that Sanofi has exercised this option to advance a key collaboration program. The opportunity identified with Sanofi focuses on two highly relevant disease targets where normally two separate molecules would be required to achieve the relevant therapeutic effect. Our AI-driven systems, coupled with integrated chemistry and assay resource from Sanofi, identified a single small molecule, with integrated pharmacophore, capable of interacting productively with both targets. To our knowledge the Exscientia platform is the only system capable of implementing such designs.”
Bispecific Small Molecules are a new concept where a single compound is designed to productively interact with two distinct drug targets, instead of requiring two independent compounds. In contrast with previous approaches, where relatively large bi-functional compounds were made by tethering two existing molecules together with a linker, Exscientia has pioneered the discovery of Bispecific Small Molecules that simultaneously fulfil the binding site requirements of two targets through an integrated pharmacophore. Due to their low molecular weight Bispecific Small Molecules are suitable for oral delivery.
Over the past two years Exscientia has generated nearly 100 billion novel compounds through evolutionary design (six orders of magnitude larger than searching for hit molecules using conventional HTS) to specifically explore bispecific small molecule opportunities for over one thousand disease-relevant target combinations in the areas of metabolic disease and fibrosis. Those with the strongest potential were synthesised and validated experimentally by Sanofi to confirm Exscientia’s dual target hypothesis.
This exercise option is the result of two years of work identifying promising dual target opportunities. For the licensed programme reaching agreed delivery criteria, a series of development and sales milestones may be payable by Sanofi.
The 2017 partnership announcement can be accessed here.