AI, China, Venture

WuXi dives into computational drug discovery, launches New York-based JV with Schrödinger

Global CRO powerhouse WuXi AppTec has long made it clear that it’s not content just doing outsourced work for its clients. It’s invested in R&D facilities, seeded biotech startups and teamed up with Juno Therapeutics to build a CAR-T company in China. And in its latest move in the US, WuXi is launching a joint drug discovery venture with the computational chemistry experts at Schrödinger.

Faxian Therapeutics — which gets its name from the Chinese word for “discovery” — will take advantage of Schrödinger’s “advanced computational platform and expertise in physics-based drug discovery” and WuXi’s lead optimization prowess from chemistry, biology, to drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics, the companies say, with WuXi responsible for carrying out the experiments designed by Schrödinger.

Edward Hu

While Faxian will be headquartered in New York City, it will run on a “virtually-integrated, globally-distributed network,” according to Edward Hu, who’s recently been promoted to be co-CEO at WuXi.

Shi-Yi Liu, Schrödinger’s SVP of corporate communications, elaborates in an email:

WuXi has a worldwide presence, as does Schrödinger, and as needed, members from each company from all around the world will work together on this collaboration, leveraging individual expertise wherever it resides. This virtual global collaboration will be facilitated by Schrödinger’s LiveDesign platform, which allows all members of a discovery team to communicate and collaborate in real time from anywhere.

A storied discovery shop that’s helped launch splashy biotechs like Nimbus Therapeutics and Morphic Therapeutic, Schrödinger convinced Takeda last year to take a try on its in silico platform — featuring molecular simulations and software — for $170 million per program in neurodegenerative diseases and schizophrenia. That follows a similar partnership with Sanofi, which wanted to look into autoimmune diseases and oncology.

The company has yet to decide on therapeutic areas it will focus on, Liu says. Schrödinger’s worldwide team of around 400 covers an extensive range of indications, from antifungal and fibrosis to metabolic diseases and type 2 diabetes.

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