Roivant extends AI drug discovery attain with $450M Silicon Therapeutics buyout



Roivant Sciences has expertise that makes use of laptop modeling to design medicine that harness the physique’s pure method of disposing of outdated or broken proteins. On Friday, the corporate unveiled a $450 million acquisition that would broaden that platform’s attain, giving Roivant the aptitude to design extra sorts of small molecules medicine.

New York and Basel, Switzerland-based Roivant is acquiring Silicon Therapeutics, a computational drug discovery startup that has superior from firm launch to medical testing in 4 years. Beneath the phrases of the settlement, Roivant pays $450 million within the type of fairness within the privately held firm. If Boston-based Silicon Therapeutics achieves regulatory and industrial milestones, it might earn further funds. Particulars about these funds weren’t disclosed.

Silicon Therapeutics launched in 2016, backed by $15 million in Sequence A financing to help its “physics-based” method to drug discovery. The corporate’s computational platform runs simulations that mannequin the setting of proteins. The expertise additionally designs small molecules that may bind to a goal protein and modulate its perform with out additionally hitting proteins that may trigger uncomfortable side effects. Silicon Therapeutics says its expertise can information molecular design on the atomic degree.

The physics-based strategies of Silicon Therapeutics are like these of New York-based Schrödinger, which parlayed its computational drug discovery expertise into a $232 million IPO a year ago. Woody Sherman, Silicon Therapeutics’ chief scientific officer, spent 12 years at Schrödinger as a vice chairman and world head of purposes science.

Roivant operates as a parent company to a stable of drug development subsidiaries. These models are shaped round compounds that Roivant has acquired, sometimes belongings that enormous pharmaceutical firms have shelved. The subsidiaries deal with growing these medicine whereas the mum or dad offers authorized, monetary, and regulatory experience. This mannequin is meant to make drug growth quicker and extra environment friendly.

In December, Roivant introduced new artificial intelligence technology for locating and designing new medicine that work by a mechanism known as focused protein degradation. This method includes directing a disease-causing protein to a cell’s built-in system for disposing of outdated or broken proteins.

The protein degradation platform is pushed by Roivant’s proprietary VantAI expertise, which applies machine-learning methods to information. To this point, the expertise has yielded potential medicine for oncology, immunology, and neurology. When Roivant unveiled the expertise late final yr, it stated expects to advance its first protein degradation drug candidate into human testing in early 2021.

Roivant stated Friday that Silicon Therapeutics will complement VantAI, and collectively the 2 computational choices will assist deal with the challenges of designing and optimizing protein degradation medicine. The mixture of the applied sciences can even assist Roivant design different sorts of small molecule medicine, similar to allosteric inhibitors, molecular glues, and high-affinity ligands, the corporate stated.

Silicon Therapeutics brings its personal drug pipeline developed from its computational expertise. The most advanced compound, SNX281, started medical testing final November as a possible remedy for superior strong tumors or lymphoma. The drug is a small molecule designed to focus on a protein known as stimulator of interferon genes (STING). Activating this protein is meant to spark an immune response towards most cancers. The Silicon Therapeutics pipeline consists of 5 extra potential most cancers medicine, in addition to compounds in growth for treating influenza and autoinflammatory illness.

Picture: Getty Pictures, Yuuji


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