Sanofi, Atomwise Ink Potential $1B+ R&D Deal

Sanofi_Michel Stoupak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Michel Stoupak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Atomwise, which focuses on using artificial intelligence (AI) to discover new drugs, inked a strategic research-and-development deal with Sanofi, in which the companies will use the AtomNet platform to identify and research up to five drug targets.

Under the terms of the deal, Sanofi will pay Atomwise $20 million upfront to identify, synthesize, and advance lead compounds for up to five targets. A range of research, development and sales milestones could exceed $1 billion. Atomwise is also eligible for tiered royalties of any products from the partnership.

AtomNet uses deep learning for structure-based drug design. This leverages Atomwise’s proprietary library of more than three trillion synthesizable compounds.

“At Sanofi, we are committed to bringing higher quality medicines to patients faster, empowered by our advanced AI drug discovery engine,” Frank Nestle, Global Head of Research and chief scientific officer at Sanofi, said. “We are excited to partner with Atomwise, given their leadership in the field of virtual screening and AI-based molecular design. Together, we aim at making the drug discovery process more efficient and effective in particular when very limited information is available to support drug design.”

Atomwise has a large pipeline of wholly-owned compounds: three in immunology targeting TYK2, RIPK1 and RIPK2 and 33 for undisclosed indications and targets. It also has four co-development partnerships in oncology, hematology and immunology, as well as academic partnerships. Its biopharma partners include Eli Lilly, Bayer, GC Pharma, Hansho Pharma and BridgeBio Therapeutics.

Earlier this month, Sanofi entered into a collaboration deal with Innovent Biologics to bring drugs to China for difficult-to-treat cancers. That deal focuses on two of Sanofi’s oncology assets, a Phase III trial of tusamitamab ravtansine, an antibody-drug conjugate against CEACAM5, and a Phase II study of Sanofi’s non-alpha IL-2 (SAR444245) with sintilimab, the leading checkpoint inhibitor in China.

Sanofi is eligible for up to €80 million (approximately $81.50 million) in development milestone payments and royalties on the net sales of tusamitinab. Innovent will be eligible to receive up to €60 million (about $61.12 million) in milestone payments on net sales of SAR444245 if it is approved in China. Sanofi also agreed to invest €300 million (approximately $305.61 million) in Innovent shares.

In a statement, Michael Yu, Ph.D., founder, chairman and CEO of Innovent, said, “This strategic collaboration with Sanofi, a leading global pharmaceutical company, opens the pathway to great synergy for accelerating the pace of innovation. This pioneering partnership will leverage the synergy between Sanofi and Innovent’s pipeline and R&D resources with the mutual aim to address major unmet medical needs for cancer patients. We hope this agreement will be a great start of the two parties’ long-term partnership, and we look forward to bringing more innovative therapies to patients.”

Of the Atomwise deal, Abraham Heifets, co-founder and CEO of Atomwise, said, “At Atomwise, our mission is to use our unique technology to make better medicines, faster, by unlocking targets that have been inaccessible to traditional small molecule discovery approaches. We are pleased to enter into this collaboration with Sanofi, which serves as continued validation of the important role that AI-powered platforms will play in accelerating the discovery of new therapies for diseases and conditions that may have gone untreated due to challenging or uncharacterized drug targets.”

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