XtalPi has made a partnership deal with US-based Eli Lilly to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) for drug discovery.

XtalPi will receive $250m in upfront and milestone payments.

The two companies will use XtalPi’s integrated AI capabilities and robotics platform for the de novo [without consideration of previous instances] design and delivery of drug candidates for an undisclosed target.

XtalPi brings together AI “dry lab” algorithms and “wet lab” robotics to drive innovation.

The collaboration will leverage the AI drug discovery solution to create a novel compound, which will be advanced by Lilly through clinical and commercial development.

XtalPi CEO Dr Jian Ma stated: “With a closed loop of AI and quantum physics algorithms working in sync with the data factory of large-scale robotics experiments, XtalPi is uniquely equipped to tackle challenging novel targets.

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“We are honoured that Lilly has chosen XtalPi’s AI plus robotics drug research and development (R&D) platform as a partner in achieving more fruitful pharmaceutical innovation and bringing much-needed treatments to patients worldwide.”

XtalPi’s ID4Inno small-molecule drug discovery platform helps to create and explore a target-specific mega chemical space, as well as identify a promising lead series.

The company conducts tests on each synthesised molecules group using its internal biochemical, pharmacodynamic, cellular and pharmacokinetic assay capabilities.

The project-specific R&D data is fed into generative AI models through iterative cycles of design, making, testing and analysis.

This process continues until a drug candidate with optimal properties is identified.

By using multiple autonomous robotic workstations, the company is able to perform precise and energy-efficient parallel chemical synthesis and assays 24/7.