Insilico puts undruggable cancer targets in its crosshairs with Huadong alliance

Cancer cells
Insilico and Huadong Medicine plan to hit previously undruggable targets by inhibiting protein-protein interactions. (koto_feja)

Another month, another Insilico Medicine partnership. After disclosing a series of collaborations over the summer, Insilico has now taken the lid off a new partnership with Huadong Medicine focused on undruggable cancer targets. 

Insilico set up shop in 2014 to apply AI to drug discovery. In June, Insilico raised $255 million, marking the start of a series of announcements. Across June, July and August, Insilico revealed alliances with  Arvinas, GenFleet Therapeutics, Teva and other companies that are applying its AI capabilities to areas such as protein degradation.

The at least one-a-month rate of deal disclosures has continued into September with news that Huadong, a Chinese pharma company that employs more than 10,000 people, has joined forces with Insilico to go after undruggable cancer targets. 

Insilico and Huadong will each contribute to the drug discovery project. Huadong is bringing its drug discovery and screening characterization platform to the alliance, while Insilico’s contribution centers on an automated machine learning system for finding novel lead-like small molecules. The goal is to find molecules that increase the druggability of hard-to-hit cancer targets.

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“We will hit previously undruggable targets by inhibiting protein-protein interactions, in order to meet unmet medicinal needs efficiently," Feng Ren,  Ph.D., chief scientific officer and head of drug R&D at Insilico, said in a statement. Huadong is looking to the combination of AI and novel drug R&D to cut the time and cost of discovery and development.  

Huadong joins a growing list of companies that have turned to Insilico to gain an AI-powered boost to their R&D operations. Teva is the biggest name in the recent run of new partners, having signed up to work with Insilico on the discovery of novel targets in June. After that, protein degradation pioneer Arvinas and GenFleet Therapeutics, another Chinese drug developer, struck their own deals with Insilico.