Small molecule drug discovery at center of $37.5 million collaboration deal

By Liza Laws

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Novartis Small molecule Pharmacology Drug discovery AI Medicine

Novartis is paying Isomorphic Labs $37.5 million upfront to collaborate on small molecule drug discovery.

Isomorphic Labs is a digital biology company that says its mission is to redefine drug discovery using artificial intelligence (AI) and says the collaboration with Novartis is to discover small molecule therapeutics against three undisclosed targets.  

“Isomorphic Labs and Novartis hold a shared purpose to reimagine medicine to improve and extend people's lives,” said Demis Hassabis, CEO and founder of Isomorphic Labs.

“We are delighted to embark upon this integrated way of working, bringing Isomorphic's state-of-the-art AI and technology platform, including the next-generation AlphaFold model, and access to massive computing power to Novartis, an established leader in the creation of innovative medicines.” 

Isomorphic Labs says that it operates autonomously within Alphabet, with its ‘dedicated resources and exclusive focus’ on the application of AI to drug discovery. The company says it is reimagining the entire drug discovery process from first principles with an AI-first approach, working to build powerful new predictive and generative models of biological phenomena to anticipate how drugs will perform and design novel molecules.

Building on the success of AlphaFold and working in collaboration with GoogleDeepMind, Isomorphic Labs says it has made ‘remarkable progress’ in developing the Next Generation of AlphaFold.

This new iteration of AlphaFold expands beyond proteins to include small molecules and nucleic acids. Through deep integration of this next-generation AlphaFold with other breakthrough AI models developed at Isomorphic Labs, the company can better understand the underlying biological mechanisms of drug targets, and rationally design novel therapeutics.

“Cutting-edge AI technologies such as AlphaFold hold the potential to transform how we discover new drugs and accelerate our ability to deliver life-changing medicines for patients,” said Fiona Marshall, president of biomedical research at Novartis.

“This collaboration harnesses our companies' unique strengths, from AI and data science to medicinal chemistry and deep disease area expertise, to realize new possibilities in AI-driven drug discovery. We are thrilled to explore uncharted frontiers together with the Isomorphic team.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Isomorphic Labs will receive the upfront payment of $37.5 million from Novartis, in addition to Novartis funding of select research costs. Isomorphic Labs is eligible to receive up to $1.2 billion in performance-based milestone payments, excluding the upfront payment and any subsequent tiered royalties from mid-single up to low double-digit royalties on net sales.

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