Deal potentially worth up to $5.2 billion
British AI startup Exscientia has signed a research collaboration and license agreement with pharma giant Sanofi to develop potential drug candidates for cancer and immune-mediated diseases.
The pair will work to create up to 15 novel small molecule candidates using Exscientia’s AI-driven drug discovery platform.
The companies have been working together since 2016, with Sanofi in-licensing Exscientia’s bispecific small molecule candidates related to inflammation and immunology in 2019.
Under the terms of the latest agreement, Exscientia will receive an upfront cash payment of $100 million from Sanofi and will be eligible to receive potential milestone payments of up to $5.2 billion.
“Our expanded collaboration with Sanofi will utilize the breadth of our platform to test AI-designed drug candidates against patient tissue models, potentially providing far better accuracy than conventional approaches such as mouse models,” said Andrew Hopkins, CEO and founder of Exscientia.
“We look forward to deepening our work with Exscientia, a leader in leveraging AI to modernize all aspects of drug discovery and development,” said Frank Nestle, global head of research and chief scientific officer, Sanofi.
This deal for Sanofi comes after it signed an agreement with Baidu, the Chinese tech company in late November that would see the two companies work together on developing messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines.
Exscientia starts 2022 where it left off in 2021
Exscientia’s Sanofi deal continues its work from 2021, when the startup raised $304 million after going public in October and securing major backing throughout the year.
The Gates Foundation and Softbank contributed to funding the startup.
The British firm also penned deals with Bristol Myers Squibb worth up to $1.2 billion.
Exscientia’s year topped AI Business’s top 10 healthcare and pharma news for 2021.