Anagenex and Nimbus join forces to develop small molecule treatments using AI

By Jonathan Smith

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Small molecule drugs Drug discovery Artificial intelligence AI

The drug discovery specialist Anagenex has sealed a collaboration pact with Nimbus Therapeutics to co-develop small molecule drugs with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).

According to the deal terms, Anagenex will generate billions of biochemistry data points for each disease target nominated by Nimbus. Anagenex will then use these data to train AI models that can design 100 million new molecules that bind to the targets, and select the best candidates for developing into drug candidates. The therapeutic areas of interest were undisclosed.

In return, Nimbus will pay Anagenex an undisclosed amount upfront in addition to option and developmental milestone payments for each program in the collaboration.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Nimbus, one of the original and most successful computationally aided drug discovery and development companies,” said Nicolas Tilmans, CEO of Anagenex, in a public release. “We’re very excited to join forces with them in attacking new targets beyond oncology a few hundred million compounds at a time.”

The vast majority of possible protein targets lack drug candidates because they don’t fit conventional understanding about how proteins can be targeted by small molecules, says Anagenex’s website. It is therefore difficult to find a “chemical starting point” for designing new drugs for these targets, and it can take years of trial and error to turn the starting point into a drug candidate, adds the website.

To solve this bottleneck, Anagenex uses a mixture of machine learning and tools such as DNA Encoded Libraries (DELs) and Affinity Selected Mass Spectrometry (ASMS) to design drug candidates more quickly and efficiently than traditional methods. To finance the development of its technology and build a treatment pipeline, the firm raised a Series A round worth $30 million in 2022.

"Anagenex’s platform is highly synergistic with Nimbus’ computational and structure-based drug discovery expertise,” said Nimbus CSO Peter Tummino in the release. “At Nimbus, we have prioritized important but difficult-to-drug targets across multiple therapy areas. This new collaboration with Anagenex perfectly complements our broader efforts across early discovery to advance new small molecule medicines against these targets with the goal of improving patients’ lives.”

Nimbus raised a huge $210 million financing round in September 2023 to bankroll the development of its pipeline. Its lead candidate drug is designed to block the protein hematopoietic progenitor kinase 1 (HPK1), which decreases the proliferation of immune T cells. The drug candidate is in phase 1/2 development for the treatment of solid tumors and could help T cells to resist the immunosuppressive effects of the tumor microenvironment.

Among other programs, Nimbus is also developing a metabolic disease treatment in collaboration with Eli Lilly and Company that is designed to activate 5' AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK).

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