Genesis Therapeutics and Genentech Enter AI-Driven Drug Discovery Collaboration

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Genesis Therapeutics, a Stanford University spinout company with a focus on artificial intelligence (AI), has entered into an agreement with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to further develop an AI-driven drug discovery platform to identify new drug candidates that target and treat several different severe diseases.

In this multi-target partnership, Genentech will leverage Genesis’ Dynamic PotentialNet AI platform and other novel neural network algorithms. The collaboration will proceed following an initial upfront payment from Genentech to the AI drug discovery and development company. Additional terms under the partnership include pre-clinical, clinical and regulatory milestone payments to Genesis, in addition to further royalties on sales of Genentech’s therapies approved through the collaboration. Currently, the financial details on the partnership are being kept under wraps.

“This partnership with Genentech enables us to leverage our AI technology platform with Genentech’s unmatched capabilities in molecular innovation and structural biology,” according to a statement made by Genesis’ CEO Evan Feinberg, Ph.D., who co-founded the company during his time researching AI at Stanford University. “We look forward to executing rapidly on this opportunity, which has the potential to change the standard of treatment for patients.”

“AI can help unlock the next generation of innovative therapies for patients in need of additional options,” added Global Head of Roche Pharma Partnering, James Sabry, M.D., Ph.D., in a statement. “We are excited to work with Genesis’ team to discover medicines currently out of reach using conventional methods.”

Genesis’ primary offering is its Dynamic PotentialNet, in addition to other novel neural network algorithms, which examines drug-target complexes to predict and identify previously untreated disease and therapeutic targets. In November 2019, the company raised $4.1 million in seed funding to accelerate their AI drug discovery platform. Funding was used to recruit new software engineers, AI engineers and scientists.

Genentech, headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., focuses on discovering, developing, manufacturing and commercializing treatments for severe and life-threatening diseases. The company recently received full FDA approval for a venetoclax combination therapy for newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia in patients 75 years or older and in patients with comorbidities that prevent the use of intensive induction chemotherapy. Venetoclax was developed by a combined effort between Genentech and AbbVie and is commercialized by both companies in the United States. The treatment combines venetoclax with either azacitidine, decitabine or low-dose cytarabine. The approval, based on positive findings of two Phase III studies VIALE-A (NCT02993523) and VIALE-C (NCT03069352), marks an important movement toward management of a disease where a serious treatment need exists.

Genentech also recently partnered with Vaccibody AS to develop personalized neoantigen cancer treatments based on VB10.NEO, a targeted therapeutic cancer vaccine candidate. Similar to the Genentech-Genesis collaboration, Vaccibody will also be the recipient of cash payments during the development of this vaccine. The Norway-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company will receive $715 million, according to terms under the agreement, in addition to an initial upfront and near-term payments totaling approximately $200 million. Potential milestone payments of up to $515 million and tiered royalties on commercialized products were also outlined in the deal.

The news of the Genentech and Genesis partnership immediately follows an announcement of collaboration between Roche and Cambridge, Mass.-based Dyno Therapeutics to develop gene therapies using AI. The licensing and collaboration agreement between the two companies is valued at up to $1.8 billion. In May, Dyno Therapeutics exploded out of stealth mode and also announced partnership agreements with Sarepta Therapeutics and Novartis.

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