Schrödinger, WuXi launch virtual drug discovery JV

WuXi AppTec and Schrödinger unveiled Faxian Therapeutics, a joint venture aimed at accelerating drug discovery. The new company will use Schrödinger’s computational drug discovery platforms to identify new targets and create drugs to be advanced through WuXi’s CRO services.

Like Schrödinger, Faxian will be based in New York, but its operations will be largely virtual—and international.

“We are thrilled to partner with Schrödinger to create a powerful drug discovery engine running on a virtually integrated, globally distributed network,” said Edward Hu, co-CEO of WuXi AppTec, in a statement. “By combining the advanced computational platform and expertise in physics-based drug discovery at Schrödinger with the highly efficient chemistry, biology, and DMPK capabilities and technology platforms at WuXi AppTec, we will be able to significantly enable Schrödinger to accelerate new drug discovery and advance new therapies that can potentially improve the health of patients worldwide.”

An in silico drug discovery specialist, Schrödinger offers molecular simulations and software for the discovery of small molecules and biologics. The JV will follow a similar model of its other partnerships.

Schrödinger is working to advance a pipeline of drugs discovered using its platforms with partners such as Takeda and Sanofi, as well as with companies it has co-founded, including Nimbus Therapeutics and Morphic Therapeutic.

It partnered with Takeda in July 2017 to identify small molecules within Takeda’s therapeutic areas of interest. At the time, the companies didn’t disclose what these might be, but a recent refocus at Takeda suggested they’d likely be oncology, gastroenterology and central nervous system. After early drug discovery, Takeda has the option to exclusively license the programs from Schrödinger, which stands to reap up to $170 million in milestones per project.

As for WuXi, this isn’t the Shanghai-based CRO’s first foray into in silico drug discovery. In June, it backed the AI-powered drug discovery outfit Insilico Medicine with plans to formally integrate the Baltimore-based company’s technology with WuXi AppTec’s laboratory infrastructure.