Merck has announced two new drug discovery collaborations aimed at harnessing artificial intelligence (AI)-driven design and discovery capabilities. further advancing its research efforts. The partnerships, with BenevolentAI, London, UK and Exscientia, Oxford, UK, to generate several novel clinical development drug candidates with potential in key therapeutic areas of oncology, neurology and immunology.
“With the convergence of science, data, and AI, we’re determined to fast-track the development of new and truly innovative candidates, forging a path to previously unimaginable medical breakthroughs,” says Danny Bar-Zohar, global head of research and development and chief medical officer for healthcare business sector of Merck. “The partnerships with industry-leading AI technology firms BenevolentAI and Exscientia will complement our internal research capabilities and expertise, aligning with our broader strategy to enhance R&D productivity and the output of our pipeline in a sustainable manner.”
Under the terms of the agreements, three potential targets have been selected to initiate each partnership with the possibility of identifying and nominating additional targets in the future. The collaborative efforts are focused on advancing small molecule development candidates which Merck will select for further pre-clinical and clinical development. Both partners will each receive low double digit million US dollar upfront payments and will be eligible for discovery, development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments and tiered royalties based on net sales.
Merck explores data science and AI approaches to accelerate the discovery and delivery of medicines. Integrating AI across R&D processes from identifying targets to clinical trials and product lifecycle management, is aimed at improving drug discovery and development, bringing new medicines to patients faster and with higher probability of success. As the field evolves Merck will continue to deepen its existing AI and advanced analytics skills while expanding partnerships and collaborations, ensuring the company remains at the forefront of innovation.
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