EQRx's affordable drug drive leads to Absci discovery pact

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EQRx is bringing its clinical development and commercial capabilities to the partnership (rawpixel)

EQRx has identified a partner to support its effort to slash the price of medicines, teaming up with newly public drug and target discovery shop Absci to advance affordable protein-based therapeutics.

The collaboration brings together a company that wants to lower the costs of discovery and cell line development, Absci, and a company that wants to radically reduce drug prices, EQRx. Together, the partners plan to jointly engineer and develop several clinical candidates in therapeutic areas such as oncology and immunology.

Absci is bringing its drug creation technology to the alliance. The company uses synthetic biology and deep learning artificial intelligence to identify novel biologic drug candidates. Through its use of technology, Absci aims to accelerate and lower the costs of discovery.

The aims overlap with EQRx’s objectives. EQRx set up shop early last year with a different goal than other well-capitalized startups. Rather than focus on a particular pathway, modality or disease area, EQRx orientated its business to deliver patent-protected medicines at lower prices. EQRx has gone on to build a pipeline, deliver phase 3 data and enter into a special purpose acquisition company merger that could net it $1.8 billion.

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In the Absci collaboration, EQRx will use its clinical development and commercial capabilities to try to get the protein-based therapeutics to market and turn them into sales successes. Absci has an option to make additional investments as development advances in exchange for a bigger slice of the sales.   

EQRx highlighted Absci as one of the “cutting-edge, efficient drug discovery and engineering platform companies” that support its view that it is “possible to engineer innovative medicines around almost any target” when it disclosed its planned SPAC merger in August. Having teamed up with Absci, EQRx will now work to realize its goal of building a portfolio that targets $200 billion in global drug spend.