An AI, err machine learning, shop lines up Eli Lilly as partner ahead of first in-house clinical trial
Life sciences software developer and drug discovery outfit Schrödinger, during its “platform day,” outlined its programs and path forward two months after bringing on board long-time biotech analyst Geoffrey Porges, who told Endpoints News on his first day that the company’s story had been “over-simplified.”
As part of telling its story on Thursday, which included slides of Schrödinger cats, the New York-based company disclosed another partner, adding to the dozen or so collaborations in the works at Schrödinger.
Eli Lilly is the latest to sign on the dotted line in a small molecule discovery and optimization deal that will see the Indianapolis Big Pharma dish out up to $425 million in milestones. Details of the upfront payment were kept under the hood. Royalties are also on the line, and Lilly will lead everything once the tie-up enters the preclinical stage.
The deal comes to light less than two full months after Porges joined as CFO, after a storied time at SVB Securities.
On his first day, Porges told Endpoints that the timing was optimal to bring a “lot more visibility” to the 32-year-old, 800-employee company.
That was the apparent mission of Thursday’s two-hour hybrid presentation, in which CEO Ramy Farid offered up his comments on the hype of artificial intelligence and noted half the company’s employees are dedicated to R&D and working toward finding that “one magical molecule” for its biopharma partners.
“You now always hear [machine learning] being referred to as AI because it just sounds cooler to call it AI,” Farid said. “It’s just machine learning. In computational chemistry, when people say AI, they mean machine learning.”
The list of companies attempting to disrupt drug discovery is approaching a full postseason roster at this point: Exscientia, Atomwise, Recursion Pharmaceuticals, insitro, XtalPi, Deep Genomics, Insilico, CytoReason and BenevolentAI, among others.
For its own in-house work, Schrödinger will enter the clinic this quarter with a Phase I study of its MALT1 inhibitor, SGR-1505, in patients with relapsed/refractory B-cell lymphoma. The company also said Thursday that it expects to ask for an IND for its CDC7 inhibitor, SGR-2921, in the first half of next year. And a Wee1 inhibitor development candidate will be selected this quarter.
The goal is to synthesize and test hundreds of molecules in about 1.5 years to 3 years, compared to other molecule design processes that Schrödinger claims can take about 4 to 6 years.
That work is part of a laundry list of collaborators: Nimbus Therapeutics and ShouTi (both of which Schrödinger co-founded), Agios, Nimbus Therapeutics, Morphic Therapeutic, Structure Therapeutics, Sanofi, Bright Angel Therapeutics, Petra Pharma, Ajax Therapeutics, Orexia, Takeda, Zai Lab, Bristol Myers Squibb and now Eli Lilly.