WuXi AppTec to test AI-generated compounds from Insilico Medicine

WuXi AppTec is partnering up with Insilico Medicine through a venture capital investment to boost its artificial intelligence-driven drug and biomarker discovery platforms.

While a smaller, previous research collaboration with WuXi AppTec has been ongoing, the new agreement represents a larger push to validate and optimize Insilico’s pipeline, with plans to formally integrate the Baltimore-based company’s technology with WuXi AppTec’s laboratory infrastructure.

Insilico’s generative adversarial networks employ two, competing neural networks to produce and evaluate candidates and drug targets through a machine learning-based discovery pipeline. The total investment amount was undisclosed.

The transaction was a joint effort between WuXi AppTec’s Research Services Division and Corporate Venture Fund, which led the VC funding round. BOLD Capital Partners and Pavilion Capital, a subsidiary of Temasek Holdings, also participated in the financing—as well as Juvenescence, a longevity therapeutics company that holds a discovery partnership with Insilico.

“WuXi AppTec and Insilico Medicine share a mutual vision that artificial intelligence and machine learning will optimize the drug discovery process by increasing the probability of success at the pre-clinical level,” WuXi AppTec Chairman Ge Li said in a statement.

“Insilico Medicine’s domain expertise in next-generation artificial intelligence, coupled with WuXi AppTec’s capability platform, can potentially improve the efficiency of drug discovery and increase the productivity to serve our partners,” Li added.

Under the agreement, the companies will perform a series of experiments, where novel molecules discovered at Insilico will be tested at WuXi AppTec. A series of milestones apply to preclinical candidates in challenging biological targets, including orphan diseases with no known crystal structure and no known ligands.

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“Our collaboration with WuXi AppTec enables us to focus on artificial intelligence without the need to invest in the expensive laboratory infrastructure,” said Alex Zhavoronkov, Insilico’s founder and CEO.

“More than 90% of the molecules discovered the traditional techniques and tested in mice fail in human clinical trials. Our goal at Insilico Medicine is to develop advanced end-to-end AI solutions to discover the optimal preclinical candidates,” Zhavoronkov said.

Insilico plans to use the funding to build upon its work in novel molecule discovery, as well as expand its biomarker initiatives.

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“We have been looking to collaborate with artificial intelligence-enabled technologies to enhance the drug discovery and development process,” said Edward Hu, WuXi AppTec’s chief financial officer and chief investment officer.

“What impressed us the most about Insilico Medicine was the breadth of its technological capabilities and applications, ranging from target identification and small molecule generation using next-generation artificial intelligence to expertise in blockchain and aging research.”