Roivant Dives Deeper into AI with $450 Million Buy of Silicon Therapeutics
Vivek Ramaswamy, Roivant's founder and executive chairman, pictured above. (Lisa Lake/Getty Images)
Roivant Sciences, the umbrella company for Vivek Ramaswamy’s series of ‘vant companies, acquired Silicon Therapeutics for $450 million in Roivant equity. The deal includes potential regulatory and commercial milestones.
Roivant’s companies include Immunovant, Dermavant, Datavant, Aruvant, Genevant, Cytovant, Sinovant and others. And now Silicon Therapeutics. Each of the companies has a different focus. Silicon Therapeutics’ platform leverages computational physics for the in silico design and optimization of small molecule drugs. It melds quantum mechanics, molecular dynamics and statistical thermodynamics to predict binding energies and conformational behavior of molecules.
The Silicon Therapeutics acquisition is designed to complement Roivant’s targeted protein degradation platform. It will be powered by VantAI’s advanced machine learning models that are trained on proprietary degrader-specific experimental data and by Silicon Therapeutic’s computational physics resources. The two companies will be integrated, which will allow Roivant to leverage both computational physics and machine learning-based approaches to drug design.
Woody Sherman, Huafeng Xu and Chris Winter, who led Silicon Therapeutics’ drug discovery programs, will join Roivant’s drug discovery leadership team. Sherman is a leader in computational chemistry and biomolecular simulations. He spent 12 years at Schrodinger, acting as vice president and global head of applications science.
Xu pioneered novel molecular dynamics approaches and spent 12 years at D.E. Shaw Research. At Shaw, he led the development of methodology and software for free energy calculations broadly used in the pharma industry, including the Anton chip and Desmond software. Anton is a massively parallel supercomputer that has a special system for molecular dynamics simulations of proteins. Desmond software performs high-speed molecular dynamics simulations of biological systems.
Winter is a drug discovery biologist whose work has resulted in 11 targeted cancer therapies entering clinical development. Prior to joining Silicon Therapeutics, Winter was Sanofi Oncology’s head of discovery biology.
“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. “We intend to leverage our established development apparatus as we rapidly advance promising compounds from our drug discovery engine into clinical studies.”
Earlier this month, Dermavant Sciences, one of the Roivant’s companies, reported positive interim data from its PSOARING3 study, which along with PSOARING2, make up Dermavant’s Phase III program for tapinarof in adults with plaque psoriasis. The drug is a novel, once-daily therapeutic aryl hydrocarbon receptor modulating agent (TAMA) being developed for plaque psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. The PSOARING3 long-term safety study is still ongoing, but a preplanned interim analysis was run when at least 100 subjects had received tapinarof cream, 1% for 52 weeks, and another 300 had received it for 26 weeks.
Data from the analysis will be added to its prospective New Drug Administration (NDA) submission to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dermavant expects to complete the PSOARING3 long-term study in the first half of this year and submit the NDA in mid-2021.
In November 2020, Silicon Therapeutics treated the first patient with its therapeutic drug SNX281 in a Phase I trial in patients with advanced solid tumors or lymphoma. SNX281 is a small molecule Stimulator of Interferon Genes (STING) agonist with systemic exposure. It was designed based on the company’s drug discovery platform.
Lanny Sun, co-founder and chief executive officer of Silicon Therapeutics, of the Roivant deal, stated, “Silicon Therapeutics was founded with a vision of transforming the pharmaceutical industry through use of technology. 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.”