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Exscientia launch trial of third AI-designed molecule

Published on 13/05/21 at 09:27am
Photo by Markus Spiske from Pexels

Exscientia has launched Phase I trials in the US of DSP-0038 for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease psychosis, the third molecule created by the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Joint research between Exscientia and Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma designed DSP-0038 to be a single small molecule that exhibits high potency as an antagonist for the 5-HT2A receptor and agonist for the 5-HT1A receptor, whilst selectively avoiding similar receptors and unwanted targets, such as the dopamine D2 receptor.

Selective dual targeting is a major challenge for conventional drug discovery, and psychiatric indications also require exceptional selectivity to avoid off-target effects.

Andrew Hopkins, CEO of Exscientia, said: "This is further validation that our AI platform can turn complex biological challenges into high-quality clinical candidates quickly.

“To have what we believe to be the world’s first three clinical molecules created using AI arising from our own platform – two with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma – is a wonderful achievement. We hope that through the creation of DSP-0038 improved treatments for Alzheimer’s disease psychosis will be realised."

The two molecules already in trials are DSP-1181, announced in 2020 together with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Exscientia’s immuno-oncology agent, EXS-21546, announced earlier this year.

Toru Kimura, Representative Director, Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer of Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, said: "We have been impressed by the outstanding productivity of Exscientia's AI technologies. The combination of Exscientia’s AI with our company’s deep experience in monoamine GPCR drug discovery has now led to two molecules reaching our clinical pipeline from this collaboration.”

DSP-0038 will be assessed for improved antipsychotic effects associated with Alzheimer’s disease psychosis, as well as improvements in behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia which include agitation, aggression, anxiety, and depression.

Kat Jenkins

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