Exscientia Shifts Focus: Consolidates ‘Rapidly Emerging Pipeline’ to Emphasize 2 Key Oncology Programs

Exscientia Prioritizes 2 Oncology Programs, Streamlining Drug Discovery

Exscientia, an AI-driven precision medicine company, is streamlining its pipeline to concentrate on the highest-value opportunities. The company is focusing on its CDK7 and LSD1 oncology programs while discontinuing several other programs or preparing them for partnerships. This strategic shift will not result in any layoffs, according to a company spokesperson.

β€œOur oncology programs like LSD1 and CDK7 focus on well-understood development challenges where our platform can have a clear impact that, if successful, would lead to significant therapeutic benefit. Beyond a focused number of high-value internal programs in areas where we have deep expertise and strong differentiation, we believe the best way Exscientia can create an abundance of novel medicines for patients is by pairing our platform with strong partners in existing and future collaborations.”

– CEO Andrew Hopkins

Exscientia will retain the CDK7 asset GTAEXS617, currently in a phase 1/2 trial for advanced solid tumors, including head and neck, breast, and non-small cell lung cancers. The LSD1 inhibitor EXS74539 will also continue, with plans for an investigational new drug submission in the first quarter of 2024. 

Exscientia intends to test this therapy in small cell lung cancer and acute myeloid leukemia, with a phase 1 study in healthy volunteers expected in the first half of 2024. However, the A2A candidate EXS21546 will be discontinued due to unclear future prospects, supported by peer data. A phase 1/2 trial testing EXS21546 in solid tumors will be terminated, and internal research on the A2A target will cease. Exscientia is open to potential partnerships for its next-generation compounds and precision medicine capabilities related to the A2A mechanism.

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The MALT1 inhibitor EXS73565, which is progressing through IND-enabling studies, will continue to be developed, with updates expected in the first half of 2024. Additionally, Exscientia will pursue target identification for novel compounds internally and with partners. The company intends to advance a small number of new candidates for internal clinical development, with most new candidates moving forward through high-value partnerships or out licensing.

β€œIn addition to a validated patient selection strategy, the company believes a prolonged, high level of target coverage is necessary for therapeutic effect, which has been supported by recently announced peer data. Based on modelling of the clinical and preclinical data, it will be challenging for β€˜546 to reach a suitable therapeutic index.”

– Exscientia

Exscientia has already generated eight clinical development candidates at an accelerated pace compared to industry standards, with further acceleration anticipated with the integration of more automation technology.

Ongoing clinical programs for assets partnered with Bristol Myers Squibb and Sumitomo Pharma, including EXS4318, DSP-0038, and DSP-2342, are progressing in phase 1 studies.

Also Read: Merck KGaA Signs Two Deals With BenevolentAI And Exscientia To Boost AI-Driven Drug Discovery In Oncology And Immunology

Exscientia recently entered into a drug discovery agreement with Merck KGaA, receiving $20 million upfront to develop small-molecule drug candidates.

The pipeline prioritization strategy aims to extend Exscientia’s cash runway into 2026, with the company ending the second quarter of this year with $508.6 million in cash on hand.

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