Sanofi and Exscientia recently announced a research collaboration and license agreement to develop up to 15 novel small molecule candidates across oncology and immunology, leveraging Exscientia’s end-to-end AI-driven platform utilising actual patient samples. The companies have been working together since 2016, and, in 2019, Sanofi in-licensed Exscientia’s novel bi-specific small molecule candidate capable of targetting two distinct targets in inflammation and immunology, Sanofi said in a statement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Exscientia will receive an upfront cash payment of $100 million from Sanofi and will be eligible to receive future research, translational, clinical development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments of up to approximately $5.2 billion in aggregate, if all milestones for all programmes are achieved. In the case that Sanofi commercialises a therapeutic from the collaboration, Exscientia will also be eligible to receive tiered royalties on product sales ranging from high-single-digits to mid-teens and an option for clinical co-investment to increase the royalty rate up to 21 per cent on net sales of co-funded products. The upfront cash payment of $100 million is expected to be reflected in the first quarter 2022 financial results of Exscientia as cash inflows from collaborations, and recognised as revenue over the duration of the agreement.
“We look forward to deepening our work with Exscientia…,” said Frank Nestle, Global Head, Research, and Chief Scientific Officer, Sanofi.
Nestle further added, “Sanofi’s collaboration with Exscientia aims to transform how we discover and develop new small molecule medicines for cancer and immune-mediated diseases. Application of sophisticated AI and machine learning methods will not only shorten drug discovery timelines, but will also help to design higher quality and better-targetted medicines for patients.”
The statement also said that Exscientia and Sanofi will collaborate to identify and select target projects, leveraging Exscientia’s personalised medicine platform. The platform enables a “patient-first” approach through integrating primary human tissue samples into the early target and drug discovery research. By doing so, Exscientia scientists can integrate patient, disease and clinically-relevant data into decisions on potential new medicine candidates earlier in the drug creation process. In addition to target discovery, Exscientia will lead small molecule drug design and lead optimisation activities up to development candidate nomination, with Sanofi assuming responsibility for pre-clinical and clinical development, manufacturing and commercialisation.
Andrew Hopkins, DPhil, CEO and founder, Exscientia, said, “Our AI-driven platform can be leveraged across drug discovery, translational research and development, with applications ranging from improving the precision medicine and quality of drug candidates to enriching for patient selection in clinical trials. Our expanded collaboration with Sanofi will utilise 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. When you consider the change this represents – testing candidates against actual human tissue years before a clinical trial – it’s transformative.”