In a report, The Landscape of Artificial Intelligence (AI) In The Pharmaceutical Research, the community of AI-driven drug discovery companies is represented by more than 400 players, focusing on a wide scale of applications from target discovery to clinics. A few companies managed to build sophisticated AI-driven end-to-end drug discovery platforms, allowing them to advance their business faster than competitors. In the last three years, several such companies performed successful IPOs.
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The implementation of AI into drug discovery is happening gradually and has already demonstrated multiple advantages, such as accelerated target identification, optimized small molecules, biologics design, better management of clinical trials, and so on. Nowadays, AI helps to not only significantly cut down the R&D costs but also do things that are believed to be impossible using just human brain power. Such tasks might include drug repurposing, novel target identification for the complex nets of molecular pathways, or simulation of a molecule’s toxicity in the human body.
Below we summarize some of the public companies with AI-powered platforms.
Exscientia PLC (NASDAQ: EXAI)
Oxford-based clinical-stage biotech Exscientia focuses on drug discovery of small molecules for various therapeutic indications using its patient-first AI-driven platform CentaurAI. Founded in 2012, the company went on IPO in October 2021, banking a total of $510.4M.
Today, Exscientia possesses multiple drug candidates in the early drug discovery phase -- in precision cancer therapy, immunology and inflammation, anti-infectives, and others. One of their candidates in precision cancer therapy reached the Phase I clinical study.
With its end-to-end AI drug discovery platform, Exscientia offers algorithms for target selection, using genetic data, textual data (research articles, patents), patient data, and multiple other data types, as well as results of sophisticated experimental methods, such as high content screening and surface plasmon resonance. Additionally, the company’s artificial intelligence-based platform can effectively design and optimize small molecule drugs, leveraging target-driven pharmacology, ADME, 3D structure fingerprints, and other features. Last but not least, Exscientia's AI-driven drug discovery platform is able to anticipate the effectiveness of cancer therapy in the clinic, while also matching the drug with the most relevant patient group.
AbCellera Biologics Inc (NASDAQ: ABCL)
AbCellera is a Vancouver-based biotech company, which develops antibody therapeutics using AI. Founded in 2012, the company went public in December 2020 with a record-setting $555.5M IPO.
They focus on searching and analyzing the immune systems to find potential antibodies, then outsourcing their initial findings to their partners for further drug discovery. AbCellera also uses humanized antibody platforms to assess various functional modalities of the potential therapeutic molecules.
The company owns sequencing technologies with functional data from single B-cells, which enables researchers to increase the number of antibody candidates. The company offers customized single-cell assays, which help to uncover relevant antibody properties, such as specificity, cross-reactivity, affinity, and others. Such assays generate significant amounts of multimodal and multidimensional data, which AbCellera handles with their proprietary antibody visualization software Celium. After selecting the most promising leads by the number of various criteria, computational protein engineering can be used to optimize antibodies, while also considering the natural antibodies' diversity.
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Inc (NASDAQ: RXRX)
Founded in 2013, Recursion Pharmaceuticals is a Utah-based clinical stage "digital biotech", possessing a sophisticated robotized biology experimentation drug discovery platform, utilizing machine learning technologies, including high-throughput imaging analytics and high content screening data modeling. The biotech company went on IPO in April 2021 having raised $502M.
Their programs target diseases with a well-defined cause, but without approved therapies, aiming to address the unmet needs. Recursion’s drug development pipeline has three drugs in Phase 2 clinical trials; several more in Phase 1, and multiple candidates in preclinical development.
The company uses a sophisticated modular digital platform, Operating System, that powers all the biology experimentation facilities, and data generation processes. The obtained data is modeled using artificial intelligence-powered algorithms, and the results of predictions are validated experimentally and used further to improve the algorithmic part. Additionally, the company claims to reduce human bias by applying machine learning algorithms designed to extract insights from foundational biological datasets that might be too complex for human interpretation. Multiple tools in their Operating System combine software and hardware to design, execute, aggregate, and store up to 11 petabytes of biological and chemical data.
BenevolentAI SA (AMS: BAI)
A clinical-stage company BenevolentAI was founded in 2013, becoming public in 2021 via the SPAC deal with Odyssey valuing the British-based pharmaceuticals firm at up to 1.5 billion euros.
BenevolentAI has a leading drug candidate in Phase 2 clinical trials, aiming to treat atopic dermatitis. Other drug candidates include potential treatments for chronic diseases (such as ulcerative colitis), cancer (glioblastoma multiforme), and more. Additionally, there is an established partnership with AstraZeneca to develop drugs for fibrosis and chronic kidney disease. In 2020, BenevolentAI helped re-discover baricitinib as a potential COVID-19 treatment using their Knowledge Graph platform for drug repurposing.
The Benevolent Platform is a computational tool that utilizes predictive AI algorithms to analyze and extract the needed insights from the available data and scientific literature. For example, Knowledge Graph assists with managing the knowledge from publicly available biomedical data, and additional machine learning models help to identify molecular targets and to predict the molecular interactions with potential drugs.
BioXcel Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: BTAI)
BioXcel is a US-based biopharmaceutical company, founded in 2017. They focus on drug development that utilizes artificial intelligence to identify the drug candidates across neuroscience and immuno-oncology. BioXcel went public in 2018 banking $55.8 million.
BioXcel has an approach that leverages existing approved drugs and/or clinically evaluated product candidates together with big data and machine learning algorithms to identify new therapeutic applications. Most of their drug candidates fit within the field of neuroscience disorders, having an FDA-approved medicine for the acute treatment of agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder in adults. Previously, this drug was used in intravenous form for anesthesia, which BioXcel packed into the sublingual films for a new indication. At the same time, the company's pipeline includes clinical studies for combining small molecule cancer drugs with an antibody pembrolizumab, for specific cancer cases.
Lantern Pharma Inc. (NASDAQ: LTRN)
US-based pharmaceutical company Lantern Pharma specializes in developing precision oncology therapies leveraging artificial intelligence and genomics. Founded in 2013, Lantern Pharma closed a $26M IPO in 2020.
Lantern Pharma has two directions in its drug discovery and development pipeline: developing new classes of precision cancer drugs with novel mechanisms of action and “recycling” previously unsuccessful cancer drugs using machine learning algorithms, genomic data, and novel precision oncology biomarkers.
Lantern Pharma developed a RADR (Response Algorithm for Drug Positioning and Rescue) platform, which is an integrated data analytics, experimental biology, biotechnology, and machine-learning-based platform. It is a sophisticated tool in assisting with defining and developing combination strategies among drugs in development and those that are approved for a range of oncology indications.
Schrödinger Inc (NASDAQ: SDGR)
Headquartered in New York, Schrödinger is a company developing molecular design software for pharmaceutical, biotech, and materials research. Founded in 1990, the company went public in 2020 with a $232 million IPO.
Schrödinger has some fully-owned and collaborative drug discovery programs in a broad range of therapeutic areas. Their leading drug candidate is targeted for relapsed / resistant non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and it is about to enter Phase 1 clinical trials. The company's collaborative programs resulted in two FDA-approved drugs and multiple programs that have advanced into later stages of clinical trials, such as the drug candidate for inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic diseases, and many others.
The company claims that its AI-driven platform helps to discover new drugs more rapidly, at lower cost, and with a higher likelihood of success than traditional methods. Notably, the company has specialized solutions for both small molecule discovery and biologics discovery, addressing the critical points. For example, in biologics drug discovery they focus on structure prediction and protein engineering, including antibody modeling.
Relay Therapeutics Inc (NASDAQ: RLAY)
Founded in 2016, Relay Therapeutics is a US-based company that grew up specializing in developing an artificial intelligence-driven allosteric drug-discovery platform intended to apply computational techniques to modeling protein motion. They went public in 2020 with a $460 million IPO.
The company's artificial intelligence-driven platform detects and characterizes interactions that occur on a protein of interest and combines computational methods with experimental approaches across the fields of structural biology, biophysics, and chemistry. Relay’s Dynamo Platform could help with drugging previously undruggable targets, with an initial focus on precision oncology and genetic diseases.
Dynamo platform utilizes three basic phases of motion-based drug design, such as understanding how to drug the protein and identifying the chemical starting points, followed by optimization until a development candidate is selected. Each phase includes multiple steps; for example for the initial understanding of protein properties Relay Therapeutics synthesizes full-length proteins, followed by Cryo-EM and ambient temperature X-ray crystallography, the data from which is then used to create virtual simulations of the protein motion over biologically relevant timescales.
Moderna Inc (NASDAQ: MRNA)
Moderna Therapeutics is biotech company, founded in 2010 focusing on computationally-driven drug discovery and vaccine development based on messenger RNA technology. In 2018, Moderna closed a record-setting IPO raising a total of $604.3 million.
Their research engine combines a proprietary artificial intelligence-driven digital engine for drug discovery, and vaccine development, integrated into a highly automated production facility to develop mRNA vaccines and therapeutics. Using Moderna’s technology, scientists can select a protein in the human proteome to be engineered or design novel proteins.
A web-based mRNA Design Studio enables rapid design of multiple mRNAs, starting from the protein sequence. Additionally, their mRNA Early Development Engine services combine internal and external capabilities for process development, toxicology studies, global regulatory interactions, and clinical study preparation and execution for the mRNA vaccines and therapeutics.
The company became famous in 2020 when it managed to develop and commercialize COVID-19 vaccine, which gained global recognition.
Topics: Biotech Companies