US-based pharmaceutical company AbbVie and biotechnology company BigHat Biosciences have partnered to discover and develop next-generation therapeutic antibodies in oncology and neuroscience.

The research collaboration will leverage BigHat’s artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) guided Milliner platform and AbbVie’s expertise in oncology and neuroscience.

The Milliner platform is a suite of AI/ML technologies integrated with a high-speed wet lab to guide the design and selection of high-quality antibodies for multiple therapeutic targets.

Under the terms of the partnership agreement, BigHat will receive an upfront payment of $30m and is also eligible to receive up to $325m in research and development milestone payments.

The biotechnology company is also eligible to receive potential further commercial milestone payments and tiered royalties on net sales.

AbbVie vice president and discovery research global head Jonathon Sedgwick said: “This collaboration further demonstrates our commitment to integrate AI/ML-based approaches in drug discovery and development, as we strive to accelerate our oncology and neuroscience pipeline and deliver better medicines faster.”

BigHat CEO Mark DePristo said: “We are thrilled to collaborate with AbbVie, a global leader in driving innovation in drug development, and look forward to employing our Milliner platform to help design next-generation therapeutic antibodies.

“Milliner allows rapid optimisation of multiple key parameters, including functionality and developability, to help deliver complex antibodies with improved characteristics faster.”

Last month, Aldeyra Therapeutics signed an option agreement with AbbVie for a licence to develop and commercialise Reproxalap.

Reproxalap is a small-molecule modulator of RASP (reactive aldehyde species), which is found to increase in ocular and systemic inflammatory disease.

Under the terms of the option agreement, AbbVie will obtain the option to purchase a co-exclusive licence to develop, produce, and market Reproxalap in the US, along with an exclusive licence to the drug outside the US.

Recently, AbbVie has agreed to acquire ImmunoGen, a biotechnology company developing antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) therapeutics to treat cancer, for around $10.1bn.

Through the acquisition, the US drugmaker will advance its commercial and clinical presence in the space of solid tumour therapeutics.

Also, ImmunoGen’s follow-on pipeline of promising next-generation ADCs will further complement its ADC platform and existing programmes, said AbbVie.