Exscientia, Sanofi ink potential $5.2B AI research deal

Jan. 12, 2022

Exscientia and Sanofi are working to use AI in the development of sophisticated medicines in a recently signed deal worth up to $5.2 billion.

Using Exscientia’s AI-based capabilities, the two companies will work to develop up to 15 novel small molecule candidates across oncology and immunology. Exscientia will receive a $100 million cash payment as part of the deal with potential milestone payments of up to $5.2 billion.

The use of AI will enable researchers to take a “patient-first” approach, making clinically relevant decisions sooner and speeding up drug development. Exscientia’s AI technology will allow patient data and samples to be used in target and drug discovery research. Sanofi will be responsible for development, manufacturing and commercialization.

“When you consider the change this represents — testing candidates against actual human tissue years before a clinical trial — it’s transformative,” said Andrew Hopkins, CEO and founder of United Kingdom-based Exscientia.

The expanded collaboration with Sanofi will use Exscientia’s AI-driven platform for drug discovery, research and development to improve precision medicine and the quality of drug candidates, Hopkins said.

Sanofi and Exscientia began working together in 2016. In 2019, Sanofi in-licensed Exscientia’s novel bispecific small molecule candidate that could target distinct inflammation and immunology targets.

Sanofi is not alone in its quest for Exscientia’s AI-driven drug discovery platform. In 2017, GlaxoSmithKline signed a deal with Exscientia to use deep learning for drug development. In 2020, Novo Holdings and Bayer both made deals with the company. As recently as 2021, Bristol-Myers Squibb signed a deal with Exscientia to use AI for discovery of small molecule drug candidates in areas including oncology and immunology.

Exscientia is not the only company on the AI drug discovery scene. In 2021, tech startups insitro and Valo Health received $400 million in Series C funding and $300 million in Series B funding, respectively.