World’s First AI-Designed Immuno-Oncology Drug by Exscientia Enters Human Clinical Trials


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Curiosity to facilitate humans drives innovations. That’s right. A leading AI-driven pharma tech company, Exscientia has started conducting Phase 1 human clinical trials for its first AI-designed molecule for immune-oncology. A joint venture between Evotec and Exscientia led to the formation of an A2a receptor antagonist which is being developed for adult patients with advanced solid tumors.

This latest drug can harness potential benefits of reduced systemic side effects, be highly selective in terms of a target receptor and minimize brain exposure to avoid undesirable psychological side effects. High levels of adenosine are produced by tumor cells and help them to escape immune system detection by binding to the A2a receptor on cancer-fighting T-cells. This reduces the ability of T-cells to eradicate the disease. Moreover, this new AI-designed receptor is being tried for a possibility to prevent adenosine from binding to the T-cell receptor and promoting anti-tumor T-cell activity.

Exscientia’s latest innovation is coming after a venture carried in collaboration with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma where the first AI-designed candidate for the treatment of the obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) went into clinical trials.

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Exscientia’s CEO, Andrew Hopkins said, “Immuno-oncology medicines are bringing benefit to a range of cancer patients. Our selective A2a receptor antagonist addresses a next-generation immuno-oncology strategy to empower the human immune system by reversing the effects of high adenosine concentrations. We set ambitious therapeutic objectives for this project, especially high selectivity for the A2a receptor and central nervous system (CNS) sparing properties, to reduce the likelihood of systemic side effects. Even with these challenging objectives, we were able to discover our candidate molecule within 8 months of project initiation.”

Exscientia is basically an AI company dedicated to designing and discovering the best possible medicines faster and efficiently. It is also the first company to move from AI-designed small molecules to clinical trials and demonstrate the ability of artificial intelligence to completely change the way drugs are created. Moreover, the company has dedicated AI systems to learn a wide range of data and then repeatedly apply the updated knowledge to different versions of the drug design.


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