Exscientia begins China AI drug discovery tie-up with GT Apeiron

UK Artificial Intelligence (AI) drug discovery firm Exscientia has begun a collaboration with China’s GT Apeiron Therapeutics, focusing on oncology.

As part of the agreement, Exscientia gets share options in GT Apeiron as well as receiving milestones and royalties based on the clinical, regulatory and commercial success of each programme.

GT Apeiron was launched by GT Healthcare Capital Partners, a life science-focused private equity partnership, with $27 million financial backing.

Exscientia will use its Centaur Chemist AI fast drug discovery platform, taking advantage of China’s investment in pharma and AI to improve the speed of discovery of new treatments for patients in the country, and globally.

Based in Oxford, Exscientia’s existing partnerships include collaborations with Celgene, Roche, GSK, Sanofi and Evotec.

Exscientia earlier this year opened a new office in Osaka, Japan, strengthening its presence in Asia.

The company is one of several focused on AI drug research – London-based BenevolentAI is another example of this new approach to pharma R&D, which aims to use the predictive power of AI to make drug discovery more efficient and increase the chances of a molecule proving effective and safe in the clinic.

Exscientia says its systems learn from both existing data resources and experimental data from each design cycle.

The principle is similar to how a human would learn, but the AI process is far more effective at identifying and assimilating multiple subtle and complex trends to balance potency, selectivity and pharmacokinetic criteria.

Professor Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia’s CEO, said: “This is an exciting time for pharmaceutical research, with innovative approaches to drug discovery as well as the development of new commercial markets.

“Both are strongly evident in China, already the second largest national pharmaceutical market in the world, where we are delighted to join our expertise and technology with GT Apeiron to initiate our first discovery opportunity in the country.”

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