Potency-prediction software helps Schrödinger land $120M Sanofi deal

Schrödinger has racked up another tech-validating deal. Having seen the biotech it helped to found rake in $43 million from Pfizer ($PFE) and others last month, the computational drug design veteran has now struck a $120 million discovery deal with Sanofi ($SNY).

The wide-reaching, multiyear deal will see Schrödinger apply its computational drug design know-how to target analysis and validation--plus lead identification and optimization--across as many as 10 of Sanofi's drug discovery programs. Sanofi is on the hook for up to $120 million in preclinical milestones and other payments if all of the programs work out, a scenario that would represent a notable payday for the 300-person Schrödinger.

Software to help determine the structure of protein and ligand structures and predict potency is at the center of the deal, which is an expansion of an earlier agreement. In response to the ratcheting up of the stakes, Schrödinger is implementing a new informatics system designed to prevent breakdowns in communication from scuttling projects. Schrödinger claims the system will support real-time collaborations between its computational designers and Sanofi's medicinal chemists.

The success of the system will go some way to determining whether Sanofi can get the most out of Schrödinger's design tools, which it sees as an important way to boost to its drug discovery operation without having to build up its own computational capabilities. "Collaborating with Schrödinger is an effective way for Sanofi to gain access to first rate computational design resources," Sanofi Global R&D Chief Elias Zerhouni said in a statement.

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