AstraZeneca to adopt Schrödinger's molecule-modeling platform for drug discovery

A new deal with AstraZeneca comes as Schrödinger aims to move into the clinic itself with wholly owned assets focused on at least three oncology targets. (AstraZeneca)

AstraZeneca has begun working with Schrödinger to incorporate its machine learning and molecule-modeling platform within its drug discovery work, soon after the computing company received a preclinical milestone payment through its collaboration with Sanofi.

Schrödinger’s platform aims to predict how strongly a potential drug will bind and affect a target protein with the goal of optimizing its chemical properties and reducing the number of compounds that need to be synthesized before settling on a lead candidate.

AstraZeneca’s researchers hope to use the programs to identify new therapeutics, while Schrödinger’s staff will work to integrate the platform within the drugmaker’s workflows and share best practices, according to the companies. Financial details were not disclosed.

“Our strategic goal is to transform drug design using innovative digital technologies,” AstraZeneca’s global chemistry R&D lead Garry Pairaudeau said in a statement. “In this collaboration with Schrödinger, we look forward to realizing the potential of predictive physics-based modeling and machine learning to help us deliver higher quality compounds more effectively.”

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The deal comes as Schrödinger aims to move into the clinic itself with wholly owned assets focused on at least three oncology targets. This past summer, the company brought on translational science veterans from Merck and Eisai to help move its programs out of the discovery phase, after raising a total of $110 million to support its internal efforts and a dedicated staff.

Previously, New York-based Schrödinger has focused on bringing digital expertise to the biopharma R&D programs of several other companies and affiliates—including a multiyear, multitarget collaboration with Sanofi, which advanced its second drug discovery program this past July with Schrödinger providing molecular simulation from target analysis to lead identification. Earlier this year, the companies announced the advancement of a separate program in autoimmune disease into clinical trials.

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Schrödinger counts more than two dozen potential therapies in a range of disease areas currently being developed through its collaborations, including several clinical-stage assets and two FDA-approved cancer treatments.