AstraZeneca, Verge Genomics ink AI drug discovery deal

Sept. 8, 2023

Verge Genomics, a biotech company using AI and patient tissue data for drug discovery, has partnered with Alexion, AstraZeneca’s rare disease unit, to identify new drug targets for rare neurodegenerative and neuromuscular diseases. 

In a four-year deal, Verge will receive up to $42 million upfront, equity and near-term payments, potentially totaling $840 million plus future royalties. The collaboration will utilize Verge's proprietary platform, Converge. The drug discovery platform combines human tissue datasets and machine learning to find high-probability clinical success targets. Alexion will choose targets for each condition and has the option to advance them through development and commercialization.

Unlike traditional models, Verge's use of proprietary genomic datasets from human tissue speeds up insights into clinical candidates. Verge's platform was key in the advancement of its lead program in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.  

Following its $39 billion takeover of Alexion in late 2020, AstraZeneca has kept the rare disease unit busy building partnerships and making acquisitions in a continued push to become a rare disease leader. Alexion paid $68 million to acquire Massachusetts-based LogicBio Therapeutics back in October 2022 and then picked up Pfizer's early-stage rare disease gene therapy portfolio for $1 billion this past July.