Alphabet’s Isomorphic stacks two new deals with Lilly, Novartis worth nearly $3B ahead of JPM

Just more than two years after launching within Alphabet, Isomorphic has inked two large pharma deals with Eli Lilly and Novartis with nearly $3 billion in combined deal value. 

The two separate pacts add significant weight to Google DeepMind’s AlphaFold AI tech, the foundation of Isomorphic’s platform. The program predicts protein structure, enabling potentially faster target discovery and compound construction. 

Lilly is handing over $45 million upfront to discover small molecule therapies aimed at undisclosed disease targets with more than $1.7 billion in milestone payments. Isomorphic says newer iterations of AlphaFold are expanding beyond protein predictions to include small molecules and nucleic acids. 

The deal with Novartis is similar, including $37.5 million in upfront cash with $1.2 billion in biobucks up for grabs. The AI biotech will be responsible for identifying small molecules against three undisclosed targets. 

Mum's been the word—publicly at least—from Isomorphic since launching in 2021. The company’s scientific advisory board is stacked with four previous Nobel Prize winners, including CRISPR scientist Jennifer Doudna, Ph.D., Sir David MacMillan, Ph.D., Sir Paul Nurse, Ph.D., and Venki Ramakrishnan, Ph.D. 

At the helm is founder Demis Hassabis, who concurrently leads DeepMind. Two years ago the company brought on Miles Congreve, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer, placing its trust in the ex-GSK medicinal chemistry leader and former director of chemistry at Astex Pharmaceuticals. Chief Technology Officer Sergei Yankeen, Ph.D., jumped from SOPHiA GENETICS where he held the same role. 

The Sunday announcement is likely the first trickle of new deals to emerge from what should be a lively J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference. Sentiment about the industry has shifted in the last month from tepid to excited as a bounty of M&A in December 2023 and encouraging signs from the U.S. economy boosted morale.