Leading pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is collaborating with Exscientia, a UK biotechnology company which has developed its own artificial intelligence (AI) platform, to use the technology to accelerate drug discovery.

The collaboration will see Exscientia combine its AI-enabled platform with GSK’s expertise in the field of drug discovery, to identify novel and selective small molecules for up to 10 disease-related targets, selected by GSK.

Exscientia will apply its Big Data resources, including medicinal chemistry and large-scale bio-assays, and its AI-driven algorithms to design novel molecules that fulfil the requirements of the lead and candidate criteria.

Exscientia will receive research payments from GSK to undertake new discovery programmes with nominated targets, with the goal of delivering pre-clinical candidates. In addition, GSK will provide research funding and make payments of £33 million, if pre-clinical milestones are met.

“The alliance 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,” said CEO of Exscientia, Prof Andrew Hopkins.

“Delivering efficiencies to drug discovery has the potential to revolutionise the way early projects are executed, enabling more dynamic target selections from the burgeoning set of opportunities,” continued Prof Hopkins.

“Exscientia has built an excellent team with proven innovation in drug discovery technologies. We anticipate that their industry-leading approach will accelerate the discovery of new molecules against high value GSK targets with speed and confidence, and without compromising quality,” added GSK’s Head of Platform Technology and Science, John Baldoni.

This deal follows a similar collaboration project between GSK, the US Department of Energy and National Cancer Institute to accelerate pre-clinical drug development through use of advanced computational technologies.

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