Roivant Grows Computational Drug Discovery Engine with Acquisition of Silicon Therapeutics
- Leading computational physics-based platform for design and optimization of small molecules bolsters Roivant's drug discovery capabilities
- Silicon Therapeutics drug discovery executives Dr. Woody Sherman, Dr. Huafeng Xu, and Dr. Chris Winter to join Roivant leadership; Drs. Sherman and Xu are industry pioneers in computationally powered drug discovery
- Physics-based approaches at Silicon Therapeutics to be integrated with machine learning-based approaches at VantAI
NEW YORK and BOSTON and BASEL, Switzerland, Feb. 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Roivant Sciences today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Silicon Therapeutics for $450 million in Roivant equity, with additional potential regulatory and commercial milestone payments.
Silicon Therapeutics has built a proprietary industry-leading computational physics platform for the in silico design and optimization of small molecule drugs for challenging disease targets. The platform includes custom methods based on quantum mechanics, molecular dynamics and statistical thermodynamics to overcome critical bottlenecks in drug discovery projects, such as predicting binding energies and conformational behavior of molecules.
Silicon Therapeutics' computational platform is powered by a proprietary supercomputing cluster and custom hardware enabling accurate all-atom simulations at biologically meaningful timescales. This computational platform is tightly integrated with experimental laboratories equipped for biophysics, medical chemistry and biology in order to facilitate the rapid progression of drug candidates by augmenting simulations with biophysical data. The company has used these capabilities to discover multiple drug candidates.
The acquisition of Silicon Therapeutics bolsters and complements Roivant's targeted protein degradation platform. That platform will be powered by VantAI's advanced machine learning models trained on proprietary degrader-specific experimental data and by Silicon Therapeutics' proprietary computational physics capabilities, which help address many of the modality-specific challenges of degrader design and optimization. Integrating Silicon Therapeutics and VantAI will enable Roivant to distinctively capture the power of both computational physics and machine learning-based approaches to drug design; for instance, by incorporating proprietary computational physics simulations as training data for VantAI's degrader-specific deep learning models.
The combination of Silicon Therapeutics and VantAI also gives Roivant distinctive advantages in designing other types of novel small molecule drugs against difficult targets, such as allosteric inhibitors, molecular glues and high-affinity ligands.
Dr. Sherman is a recognized leader in computational chemistry and biomolecular simulations who spent 12 years as a senior scientific executive at Schrödinger, where he served as vice president and global head of applications science. Dr. Sherman is an authority in the emerging field of physics-driven drug design who has developed novel methods for free energy simulations, conformational modulation, virtual screening, improved force fields, lead optimization and precision selectivity design.
Dr. Xu is a pioneer in novel molecular dynamics methods who spent 12 years at D. E. Shaw Research where he led development of the methods and software for free energy calculations that are now widely used in the pharmaceutical industry, including the Anton chip and Desmond software.
Dr. Winter is an accomplished drug discovery biologist who has delivered 11 targeted cancer therapies into clinical development. Before joining Silicon Therapeutics, Dr. Winter served as Sanofi Oncology's head of discovery biology. He joined Sanofi from Blueprint Medicines, where he served as head of biology. Prior to Blueprint, Dr. Winter held senior research positions at Merck Research Laboratories and Exelixis.
"We are delighted to integrate Silicon Therapeutics into Roivant as we continue to expand our capabilities in computationally-powered drug discovery," said Matt Gline, chief executive officer of Roivant Sciences. "We intend to leverage our established development apparatus as we rapidly advance promising compounds from our drug discovery engine into clinical studies."
"Silicon Therapeutics was founded with a vision of transforming the pharmaceutical industry through use of technology," said Lanny Sun, co-founder and chief executive officer of Silicon Therapeutics. "By joining forces with Roivant, we can significantly accelerate making this vision a reality. Roivant has an impressive track record in clinical execution and building and deploying technology platforms to power pharmaceutical research, development and commercialization."
"The combination of Silicon Therapeutics' integrated approach, platform and highly capable team with Roivant's technologies and commitment to transforming the pharmaceutical industry represents a new and exciting paradigm in drug discovery and development," said Roger Pomerantz, M.D., F.A.C.P., chairman of the board of directors of Silicon Therapeutics.
The acquisition is subject to customary closing conditions including receipt of requisite regulatory approvals.
About Roivant Sciences
Roivant's mission is to improve the delivery of healthcare to patients by treating every inefficiency as an opportunity. Roivant develops transformative medicines faster by building technologies and developing talent in creative ways, leveraging the Roivant platform to launch Vants – nimble and focused biopharmaceutical and health technology companies.
For more information, please visit www.roivant.com.
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