Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche entered into a multi-year, multi-target drug partnership with Genesis Therapeutics, a 2019 founded biotechnology company, headquartered at Burlingame, CA and spin off from Stanford University. The collaboration will allow Genentech to leverage Genesis’ graph machine learning and drug discovery expertise to identify innovative drug candidates for therapeutic targets in multiple disease areas. In return, Genesis will receive upfront and milestone payments on preclinical, clinical and regulatory approvals. Genesis will also receive royalties post commercialization. The neural network platform developed by Genesis aims to predict binding efficacy of potential molecules.
Along similar lines, earlier this month Taisho Pharmaceutical, a Japan–based Company, signed a deal with Insilico Medicine, a Hong Kong–based Company that uses an experimentally certified, automated AI platform to develop precision medicine and in the process reducing cost and time significantly. Through this partnership, Taisho pharmaceutical will get access to Insilico’s proprietary Pandomics Discovery platform, to identify new therapeutic compounds, treat ageing and slow the process of cellular ageing. The partners anticipate to bring in novel anti-aging solutions by bringing in their expertise of using the AI platform and Taisho’s validation of the computer-generated compounds through in-vivo and in-vitro testing.
Even in the past larger companies including Genentech and GSK entered into similar partnerships to explore the application of AI in drug discovery. However, in the last two decades several large companies have used AI driven drug designs, but to their dismay, value creation has not been evident. As numerous start-ups and small-scale ventures face mortality, the domain hasn’t garnered much attention from the VC and PE for investments. However, some younger ventures such as Cyclica has stood out by securing USD 23 Mn Series B funding to tackle the most prominent challenges in drug discovery and development. However, the current impetus in partnerships by the big pharma will renew the momentum in development for drug discovery with big pharma’s continuing interest to utilize such advanced technologies for innovation while exploring business models to draw in venture attention and engagement.