Absci, a company focused on generative artificial intelligence (AI) drug discovery, has entered into a partnership with AstraZeneca to advance the development of an AI-driven oncology candidate.

The partnership combines AstraZeneca’s expertise in oncology research and development (R&D) with Absci’s Integrated Drug Creation platform to expedite the discovery of a potential new candidate for cancer treatment.

The Integrated Drug Creation platform combines a suite of scalable wet-lab technologies with generative AI. The tool measures millions of interactions between proteins to produce data.

The data are used to train proprietary AI models of the drug discovery firm and in later iterations to validate antibodies created using the de novo AI models.

Absci will leverage its generative AI technology to develop an antibody candidate for a specific oncology target.

The agreement includes milestone payments, funding for research and development (R&D), and an upfront commitment along with royalties on product sales.

Absci founder and CEO Sean McClain said: “AstraZeneca is a leader in developing novel treatments in oncology, and we are excited to collaborate with them to design a therapeutic candidate antibody with the potential to improve the lives of cancer patients.

“This agreement advances Absci’s goal of creating a new generation of life-changing and transformative therapeutics using its AI platform.”

Absci’s platform speeds up the process of finding new drugs by completing the cycle of data collection, AI-driven design, and wet-lab validation in around six weeks.

It optimises several drug attributes concurrently and expands the universe of drug targets to include previously considered undruggable targets to increase the likelihood of successful development outcomes for biological drug candidates.

AstraZeneca biologics engineering and oncology targeted delivery senior vice president Puja Sapra said: “This collaboration is an exciting opportunity to utilize Absci’s de novo AI antibody creation platform to design a potential new antibody therapy in oncology.”

The agreement with AstraZeneca follows Absci’s publication on the creation and validation of de novo antibodies using its zero-shot generative AI model.

Last month, the company signed a drug discovery partnership with Almirall, a biopharmaceutical company specialising in medical dermatology.