Janssen teams up with Iktos for AI trial work

Artificial intelligence in clinical trials is all the rage, and Janssen has become the latest Big Pharma to delve deeper into its potential to boost the number of successful drugs coming through the pipeline.

The use of AI is fairly broad, but in this instance the deal, financial details of which are being kept mum, is designed to help seek out, model and better predict small-molecule activities out of Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen biotech unit and thereby know which of these are most likely to get to the finishing line and return millions, if not billions, of dollars.

Iktos, which describes its work as being borne of “deep generative models,” is working on new tech for in silico drug design that aims to boost drug discovery based on “its unique capacity to explore chemical space with speed and efficiency, thus enabling identification of molecules that meet the desired criteria in a given research project.”

As part of the collaboration, Iktos’ virtual drug design tech will be embedded into “several” Janssen small-molecule projects, using its know-how in deep generative models applied to chemistry coupled with Janssen’s background in AI-enabled prediction of small-molecule activities.

“We are thrilled to be able to announce a strategic collaboration with Janssen, one of the largest pharma companies in the world, and highly respected for the quality of their science and their visionary perspective regarding the use of big data and machine learning to progress pharma R&D efficiency,” said Yann Gaston-Mathé, CEO of Iktos.

“It is a major recognition for Iktos to be selected by Janssen as a partner for implementation and development of generative modeling technology for new drug design. Iktos has been a pioneer in the application of generative models for drug discovery and is emerging as a world leader in a technology that has the potential to disrupt the way new therapeutics are designed.”

The Paris, France-based company already has pacts with a number of European biopharmas including Servier, Galapagos, German Merck and Pierre Fabre, but Janssen is the largest pharma it's worked with date and gives it a foothold in the U.S.