Merck KGaA and Exscientia enter collaboration for AI drug discovery

Exscientia has announced a new collaboration with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, with a focus on the discovery of novel small molecule drug candidates for the treatment of various indications across oncology, neuroinflammation and immunology. The collaboration will use Exscientia’s AI-driven precision drug design and discovery capabilities and utilise Merck KGaA’s disease expertise across oncology and neuroinflammation, clinical development capabilities and global footprint.
Three targets have been identified as the focus of the partnership, however the collaboration allows Merck KGaA to identify further targets in mutually agreed disease areas. If Exscientia identifies additional targets, it would be responsible for target validation and drug design and would be eligible for additional discovery milestones.
Professor Andrew Hopkins, FRS FMedSci, founder and CEO at Exscientia, commented: “We’re pleased that Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany chose our team of experts for this AI-led drug discovery collaboration. We look forward to complementing their outstanding scientific acumen with our integrated technology platform and ability to generate novel data in order to address some of the hardest drug design challenges in cancer and immunology.” Under terms of this agreement, Exscientia will receive an upfront cash payment of $20m from Merck KGaA, and will be eligible for discovery, development, regulatory and sales-based milestone payments up to $674m. If Merck KGaA commercialises a therapeutic from one of the initial targets, Exscientia will receive tiered royalties.