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Frontier IP Group - Exscientia announces joint initiative re COVID-19

RNS Number : 3234I
Frontier IP Group plc
01 April 2020

RNS Reach


1 April 2020



Frontier IP Group Plc

("Frontier IP" or the "Group")


Portfolio news - Exscientia announces joint initiative to identify COVID-19 drugs with UK government-backed science facility Diamond Light Source and Scripps Research


Frontier IP, a specialist in commercialising intellectual property, is pleased to note that portfolio company Exscientia ("Exscientia" or the "Company"), a world leader in AI-driven drug discovery, is to progress compounds that could rapidly become viable drugs for treating COVID-19 in a joint initiative with Diamond Light Source and Calibr, a division of Scripps Research (USA).


Through the transatlantic alliance, Exscientia has gained access to Calibr's collection of 15,000 clinically-ready molecules, those which have already been shown to be safe for use in humans or have passed pre-clinical safety studies.  


Exscientia will start by rapidly screening the entire collection to identify existing compounds that could be repurposed to tackle COVID-19. In the longer term, the Company plans to use its AI to design even more effective compounds.


Exscientia has been working with Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron facility funded by the government, and the University of Oxford since January 2020 on the project. Frontier IP holds a 3.3 per cent equity stake in the Company.


Frontier IP Chief Executive, Neil Crabb, said: "Exscientia's aim is to use its AI to discover new, effective drugs quickly and efficiently, and we are optimistic the Company can make a significant contribution to the global fight against COVID-19.


"Other of our portfolio companies are directly involved in support efforts to combat COVID-19. These include The Vaccine Group, which is developing animal vaccines to combat the disease and related coronaviruses to prevent their future spread from animals into humans, and Elute Intelligence Holdings, which is using its technology to support scientists needing to sift complex datasets to identify the most relevant research for their work."



Exscientia statement in full:


Exscientia announces joint initiative to identify COVID-19 drugs with Diamond Light Source and  Scripps Research



·        Transatlantic partnership seeks to identify COVID-19 antiviral treatments

·        Exscientia to screen nearly every known approved and investigational drug - 15,000 clinical molecules - against key COVID-19 drug targets to progress rapid treatments


Exscientia, the leading artificial intelligence (AI) driven drug discovery company, today announced a joint initiative with Diamond Light Source, the UK's national synchrotron facility and Calibr, a division of Scripps Research (USA), to progress compounds that could rapidly become viable drugs for the rapid treatment of COVID-19.


Through this alliance, Exscientia has gained access to Calibr's world's leading collection of 15,000 clinically-ready molecules. This collection includes launched drugs, additional compounds that have already been shown to be safe in humans and promising compounds that have passed pre-clinical safety studies. The collection, which has been funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will be shipped from the Scripps Research in La Jolla, California to Exscientia, in Oxford, UK.


Exscientia will first apply its advanced biosensor platforms to rapidly screen the complete collection against key viral drug targets of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. Three prioritised targets include; the 3CL protease, the NSP12-NSP7-NSP8 RNA polymerase complex (both of which are vital components for viral replication) and the virus's SPIKE protein, which interacts with the human cell receptor ACE2 in order to gain entry to human cells. 


Dr Martin Redhead, Head of Quantitative Pharmacology at Exscientia, who will carry out the analysis, commented: "Given the ever expanding scale and rapid speed at which COVID-19 is spreading, the initial priority is to search for any existing drug that can be  repurposed to protect the human population. Then as we move forward we can design superior molecules with our AI-Design systems to work even more effectively against the virus. The Scripps Research collection allows us to explore both of these important objectives.


Professor Dave Stuart FRS, Director of Life Sciences at Diamond Light Source and MRC Professor of Structural Biology at the University of Oxford, is co-ordinating the efforts along with his colleagues, Dr Martin Walsh and Dr Jonathan Grimes.


Prof. Stuart commented: "The drugs we are testing have either been approved by the FDA for other diseases or have been extensively tested for human safety. By being able to start with existing high-quality molecules, we can move more rapidly to clinical trials, and potentially an initial treatment for patients".


The three UK collaborators; Diamond Light Source, Oxford University and Exscientia have been working together since January, firstly to produce viral proteins initiate drug screening and then to investigate how anti-viral drugs at atomic detail in order to provide high-quality seed data for Exscientia's AI drug design algorithms. 


Exscientia's mission is to make safer, more sophisticated drugs available to all - more quickly and efficiently than ever before using it AI drug discovery platform. At this critical time globally, the company believes that a dual strategy to first identify opportunities in the existing set of known drugs and then work on new optimised molecules is an optimal path to start to protect the human population from this invasive disease.



Exscientia statement ends 





Frontier IP Group Plc

T: 020 7332 2338

Neil Crabb, Chief Executive

Andrew Johnson, Communications & Investor Relations

Company website: www.frontierip.co.uk


M: 07464 546 025

Allenby Capital Limited (Nominated Adviser)

T: 0203 328 5656

Nick Athanas / Nicholas Chambers


Exscientia Limited  





Edelman PR



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About Exscientia


Exscientia is a global Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven drug discovery company.  By fusing the power of the original AI with the experience of seasoned drug hunters, Exscientia's innovative Centaur Chemist™ platform enables breakthrough productivity gains as well as new approaches to improve drug efficacy.

Novel compounds are automatically designed and prioritised for synthesis by its AI systems, which rapidly evolve compounds towards the desired candidate criteria for clinical development.  For more information visit us on www.exscientia.ai or follow us on Twitter @exscientialtd.


Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron, providing industrial and academic user communities with access to state-of-the-art analytical tools to enable world-changing science. Shaped like a huge ring, it works like a giant microscope, accelerating electrons to near light speeds, to produce a light 10 billion times brighter than the Sun, which is then directed off into 33 laboratories known as 'beamlines'.

In addition to these, Diamond offer access to several integrated laboratories including the Electron Bio-imaging Centre (eBIC) and the Electron Physical Science Imaging Centre (ePSIC). Diamond serves as an agent of change, addressing 21st century challenges such as disease, clean energy, food security and more. Since operations started, more than 14,000 researchers from both academia and industry have used Diamond to conduct experiments, with the support of approximately 700 world-class staff. More than 9,000 scientific articles have been published by our users and scientists.

Funded by the UK Government through the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), and by the Wellcome Trust, Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world, and its pioneering capabilities are helping to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research. For more information visit us on www.diamond.ac.uk or follow us on Twitter @DiamondLightSou


Calibr was founded on the principle that the creation of new medicines can be accelerated by pairing world-class biomedical research with state-of-the-art drug discovery and development capabilities. Leveraging the unique scientific framework of Scripps Research, Calibr has created a portfolio of drug candidates based on Scripps technologies, and is shaping a new paradigm for advancing non-profit biomedical research to impact patients while re-investing in further innovative research. For more information visit us on www.calibr.org or follow us on Twitter @scrippsresearch.


Frontier IP unites science and commerce by identifying strong intellectual property and accelerating its development through a range of commercialisation services. A critical part of the Group's work is involving relevant industry partners at an early stage of development to ensure technology meets real world demands and needs.

The Group looks to build and grow a portfolio of equity stakes and licence income by taking an active involvement in spin-out companies, including support for fund raising and collaboration with relevant industry partners at an early stage of development.


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