Exelixis, the pharmaceutical company recognized for its solid tumor medication Cabometyx, is adopting artificial intelligence (AI) to bolster its pipeline. In a recent announcement, Exelixis disclosed an $80 million licensing agreement with Insilico Medicine for a phase 1 small molecule called ISM3091. The deal grants Exelixis global rights to this cancer treatment, which targets USP1 and is believed to hold particular promise in treating BCMA-mutated tumors.
This development marks the third clinical-stage asset resulting from Insilico’s AI-driven drug discovery and development platform, Chemistry42. The platform employs machine learning to expedite the early research and development process. Insilico reported that it took only 30 months from the initial stages to launch ISM3091 in a phase 1 clinical trial, which began less than a month ago.
This strategic move by Exelixis follows a recent activist campaign by Farallon Capital Management, which led to the removal of three board members. Farallon had criticized the company for what it perceived as inefficient allocation of R&D capital, advocating for a greater focus on expanding Cabometyx. With the change in board composition, Exelixis appears to be embracing AI-based drug discovery as part of its future growth strategy.
In other news from the biotech sector, Cincinnati-based company LIB Therapeutics has sold the Greater China licensing rights for its late-stage PCSK9 inhibitor, lerodalcibep, to Hasten Biopharmaceutical Company. The deal involves an upfront payment of $20 million, potential milestone payments totaling $305 million, and potential royalties. LIB Therapeutics made this move shortly after securing positive results in a second phase 3 trial for lerodalcibep, demonstrating a nearly 60% reduction in LDL-C levels in patients with heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia compared to a placebo group. The company is currently awaiting data from two additional late-stage trials.
Hasten Biopharmaceutical Company will take on all development and commercialization responsibilities in the Greater China region, which encompasses China, Taiwan, Macau, and Hong Kong. The biotech intends to submit a new drug application to Chinese regulators by the end of the year and commence a phase 3 trial for hypercholesterolemia patients shortly thereafter.