Exscientia, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to design and develop drugs, has raised $60 million (£48.5 million), which it will use to launch and progress projects and expand its AI work in biology. New investor Novo Holdings led the Series C round, which included Evotec, Bristol Myers Squibb, and GT Healthcare Capital (through its LPs).
Recent milestones for Exscientia include applying AI to speed up the process for small molecule drug discovery. In partnership with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, the first ever precision-engineered drug designed using AI had entered Phase I human clinical trials for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. The programme took less than one year, from target to identifying a developmental candidate, compared to a typical average of 4.5 years using conventional research techniques.
Exscientia has expanded into critical disease areas by multi-project partnerships with Bristol Myers Squibb, Bayer, Rallybio and GT Apeiron. It recently announced a joint initiative to identify Covid-19 antiviral treatments with Diamond Light Source and Scripps Research, and a collaboration with SRI International to combine fully automated synthetic chemistry with AI.
Exscientia founder and CEO, Professor Andrew Hopkins, said: “This investment highlights the increasing commitment to the potential of AI to transform drug discovery and the excitement that we have garnered around the innovative work we are doing at Exscientia. We have now demonstrated multiple times that our platform can accelerate the time between the start of an idea and a viable new drug candidate for patients in need of treatments, fast tracking the entire R&D process. We are delighted that Novo Holdings, one of the world’s preeminent life science investors, recognises the potential of the platform to transform the pharmaceutical industry.”
As part of the deal, Novo Growth chief Robert Ghenchev joins Exscientia’s board, and the Oxford-based firm, which has offices in the UK and Japan, will also grow its presence in the US.