GlaxoSmithKline, Exscientia ink AI-based drug discovery deal worth up to $42M

GSK building
Glaxo is tapping Exscientia's artificial intelligence-based platform to accelerate drug discovery for 10 undisclosed targets.

GlaxoSmithKline has inked a drug discovery collaboration with Exscientia, which automates drug design with its artificial intelligence-based platform.

Under the agreement, Dundee, U.K.-based Exscientia will receive research payments from GSK, which could total up to £33 million ($42.7 million). The pair will use GSK’s pharma know-how and Exscientia’s AI-enabled platform to discover small molecules to treat up to 10 targets chosen by GSK, according to a statement.

The disease-related targets will span several therapeutic areas and the pair aim to discover preclinical candidates. Exscientia stands to collect up to $42.7 million in milestone payments if all 10 projects are advanced.

Exscientia’s AI-based platform designs new molecules and assesses them for their potency, selectivity and ability to bind to specific targets. It uses a rapid “design-make-test” cycle to quickly alter candidates toward the desired criteria, the company said.

The company has already tied up with other pharma partners, including Sanofi and Evotec. Its technology has helped deliver candidate-quality molecules more quickly and at lower cost than traditional approaches, said Exscientia CEO Andrew Hopkins, in the statement.

"This agreement with GSK is the second we have signed in recent months with a top global pharma company,” Hopkins said.

“Delivering efficiencies to drug discovery has the potential to revolutionize the way early projects are executed, enabling more dynamic target selections from the burgeoning set of opportunities. We look forward to a productive collaboration with GSK,” he said.