Sanofi joins Aqemia to develop COVID-19 treatments

By Jenni Spinner

- Last updated on GMT

(Chan2545/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(Chan2545/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

Related tags Sanofi COVID-19 Coronavirus Drug discovery Artificial intelligence machine learning

The pharma firm will lend support to Aqemia’s high-tech drug discovery tools in order to work on discovery and development of therapies for the virus.

Aqemia, a deep-tech startup that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum-inspired physics in its drug discovery work, has entered an agreement with Sanofi to contribute to the discovery of treatments for COVID-19. Aqemia will work (with financial support from Sanofi) to further the research it started at the beginning of the pandemic, with the intent of designing and evaluating novel molecules to battle COVID-19.

An Aqemia spokesperson told Outsourcing-Pharma that Sanofi is keen on Aqemia’s novel technology and its potential in coming up with effective treatments in the fight against COVID-19.

The goal of this research agreement with Sanofi is to use Aqemia disruptive technology to invent active small molecules on SARS-CoV2 main protease target, as potential drug candidates, in parallel of Sanofi's own development of two vaccines​,” they told us. “Aqemia will apply its generative AI combined with its quantum-inspired physics algorithms for affinity calculation between therapeutic targets and drug candidates, to design and evaluate new innovative molecules against coronavirus​.”

According to Aqemia, the research will rely on the performance of its quantum-inspired algorithms (reportedly as accurate as experiments and 10,000x faster than others on the market) to identify active molecules on SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus main protease, a key protein of COVID-19.

Olivier Bogillot, president of Sanofi France, said the Aqemia partnership is one of many efforts the company is pursuing to treat COVID-19.

"This agreement is part of Sanofi’s ongoing efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic on multiple fronts, which remains an urgent public health need around the world. In particular, it demonstrates our willingness to support innovative and promising French startups that contribute to the national research effort to tackle SARS-CoV-2,​” said Bogillot.

Aqemia is a spin-off startup from the École normale supérieure – PSL, which specializes in drug discovery. Aqemia is focused on inventing novel molecules in order to maximizes their chance at success in pharmaceutical research, using machine learning and unique algorithms inspired by quantum mechanics.

We are pleased by this agreement with Sanofi, a global leader in pharmaceutical R&D invested in the race for the vaccine against COVID-19, and in parallel supporting innovative initiatives for the research of active molecules that target coronavirus​,” said Maximilien Levesque, Aqemia co-founder and CEO. “Early on the health crisis, Aqemia has contributed to the research against COVID-19 with its unique algorithms, and Sanofi gives us the opportunity to pursue leads of potential treatments.​”

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