Roivant Sciences to absorb Silicon Therapeutics with $450M-plus deal

Roivant Sciences has moved to take molecule designer Silicon Therapeutics underneath its corporate umbrella in a deal worth $450 million or more that will merge its computational physics work with the efforts of its VantAI drug discovery outfit.

Silicon’s platform for generating small-molecule drugs is powered by a proprietary supercomputing cluster and custom hardware for simulating interactions at the atomic level—as well as integrated medicinal chemistry laboratories—which Roivant hopes to wield to bolster its own efforts in the field of targeted protein degradation, powered by VantAI’s deep learning research.

“We intend to leverage our established development apparatus as we rapidly advance promising compounds from our drug discovery engine into clinical studies,” Roivant CEO Matt Gline said.

The acquisition agreement includes $450 million in Roivant equity, plus the potential for additional milestone payments based on future regulatory approvals and commercial success. The company will continue to operate as Silicon Therapeutics, similarly to the autonomous units within Roivant's broader portfolio.

But the companies hope the combination of their artificial intelligence programs will help them chase stickier drug molecules, such as allosteric inhibitors, molecular glues and high-affinity ligands.

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Meanwhile, Silicon’s scientific R&D and technology heads—Woody Sherman, Ph.D.; Huafeng Xu, Ph.D.; and Chris Winter, Ph.D.—will take seats among Roivant’s drug discovery leadership. 

Sherman joined Boston-based Silicon after spending 12 years as a senior executive at Schrödinger; Xu, meanwhile, spent 12 years at D.E. Shaw Research; and Winter previously served as biology head at Blueprint Medicines and Sanofi Oncology.

“Silicon Therapeutics was founded with a vision of transforming the pharmaceutical industry through use of technology,” said Lanny Sun, Silicon’s co-founder and CEO. “By joining forces with Roivant, we can significantly accelerate making this vision a reality.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify that Silicon Therapeutics will continue to operate autonomously under Roivant's broader corporate structure.