Charles River Laboratories signs AI pact with Valence Discovery to boost drug discovery work

Early-stage contract research organization Charles River Labs is delving deeper into artificial intelligence with a new pact inked this week with Valence Discovery.

The pair’s new deal, financials of which were not made public, comes in the form of a strategic partnership that lends the CRO’s clients access to Valence’s artificial intelligence platform for molecular property prediction, generative chemistry and multiparameter optimization.

This platform enables the design of small-molecule drug candidates in new regions of chemical space, and the company said it has “pioneered the application of few-shot learning in drug design, allowing the company to unlock prediction tasks for which only small amounts of training data are available,” which it believes overcomes a “critical limitation” of machine learning tech, which is also now being increasingly used in drug discovery.

“This collaboration reflects Charles River’s ongoing commitment to enhancing our portfolio of innovative technology solutions. We look forward to leveraging Valence’s unique platform to improve outcomes for our clients,” said Birgit Girshick, corporate executive vice president, discovery and safety assessment, biologics testing solutions and avian vaccine services at Charles River.

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This forms part of an ongoing collab and buyout spree for Charles River, which this year alone has seen it ink new deals to deepen its cell and gene therapy offerings, including the acquisition of Cognate BioServices in February in a pact designed to create a one-stop-shop in cell and gene therapies.

At the start of the year, it also spent $83 million to buy out next-gen antibody discovery company Distributed Bio, as well just last week snapping up early-stage CRO Retrogenix.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Charles River, a global leader trusted by many of the world’s top pharmaceutical and biotech companies,” added Daniel Cohen, CEO of Valence Discovery. “This collaboration is an important step in furthering our mission of empowering every drug discovery scientist with the latest innovations in AI-enabled drug design.”