Exscientia and Rallybio Form Joint Venture for Rare Disease Drug Discovery

July 24, 2019

U.K.-based artificial Intelligence drug discovery company Exscientia and U.S.-based drug developer Rallybio are forming a joint venture to accelerate the discovery of small molecule drug therapeutics for undisclosed rare disease indications.

“There is a huge potential for artificial intelligence to revolutionize and democratize rare disease drug discovery. AI can fast track, simplify, and lower the price of research,” said Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia. “The future of drug discovery in rare diseases is to be able to address the need for precision engineered drugs at scale and our collaboration with Rallybio is the first step in this direction.”

It is estimated that there are between 7,000 and 8,000 rare diseases, which affect 25 to 30 million Americans and 30 million to 40 million European Union citizens. These diseases pose unique challenges to the healthcare systems around the world because they require specific medical expertise and significant drug research, diagnostic and screening capabilities in order to treat these patients.

Under the joint venture, called RE Ventures, Rallybio scientists will work with Exscientia and its AI drug discovery platform to design preclinical drug candidates. RE will be owned equally by Exscientia and Rallybio. The financial details of the collaboration are not disclosed.

“Our joint venture brings together Exscientia’s industry-leading AI drug discovery capabilities with Rallybio’s expertise in rare disease drug development,” said Steve Uden, chief operating officer of Rallybio. “We believe this collaboration will accelerate the development of life-transforming therapies for patients suffering from severe and rare disorders.”

Rallybio was founded in 2018 specifically to identify and accelerate the development of transformative therapies for patients with severe and rare diseases. The founders are all ex-Alexion executives: Martin MacKay, former head of R&D at Alexion, Steve Uden, former head of research at Alexion, and Jeffrey Fryer, former member of Alexion’s financial leadership team.

Exscientia was spun-out from the University of Dundee in 2013 to develop an AI platform to automate drug design. The joint venture with Rallybio is a departure from Exscientia’s previous collaborations with drugmakers such as GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, and Evotec where the company applied its AI platform to targets selected by its partners.

Photo: Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia

Author: Rare Daily Staff

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