Exscientia to acquire AI drug screening startup Allcyte

Exscientia announced Tuesday that it has entered into an agreement to acquire biotech startup Allcyte, which has developed a deep learning platform to improve the delivery of personalised medicine to cancer patients. Exscientia said Allcyte's platform has been validated on multiple solid and haematological tumour types, and it expects the technology will help expand its "translational capabilities by enabling high-content evaluation of individual patient biology in primary tumour tissues, rather than artificial cell lines or animal models."

The acquisition is worth €50 million ($60.6 million), which Exscientia will pay through a mixture of cash and stock. CEO Andrew Hopkins remarked that "Allcyte is able to demonstrate what therapy actually works in the individual patient with the most disease-relevant screening platform we have seen." He added that "combining Allcyte's platform with [our] technologies can redefine how drugs are developed, enabling integrated discovery and patient selection."

The Allcyte platform uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyse the activity of cancer drugs in live patient samples at single-cell resolution so as to better anticipate their effectiveness in the clinic. Exscientia cited findings from a study, dubbed EXALT-1, in which treatment decisions guided by the approach led to significant improvements in progression-free survival over the prior line of therapy in patients with advanced aggressive haematological malignancies.

Optimising drug discovery process

According to Exscientia, the merger will also allow the platform to be "significantly expanded and extended" into early drug discovery to help increase the success rate of clinical trials. "This end-to-end approach will allow discovery projects to be assessed in a biological setting that more accurately reflects the actual patient environment, improving translation from laboratory to clinic," the company noted. Meanwhile, upon closing, Exscientia said it plans to expand Allcyte's Vienna site as its hub in the EU.

Last month, Exscientia announced an expanded collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb that will use AI to accelerate the discovery of small-molecule drug candidates in multiple therapeutic areas, including oncology and immunology. 

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