Almirall, a biopharmaceutical company specialising in medical dermatology, has entered into a significant drug discovery partnership with Absci, an AI-driven drug creation company.

The collaboration represents a significant expansion of Absci’s de novo AI drug creation portfolio into the field of dermatology, signalling a strategic move to accelerate the discovery process for a wider range of chronic inflammatory diseases.

This strategic partnership leverages Absci’s Integrated Drug Creation platform and Almirall’s profound expertise in dermatology. The shared objective is to create groundbreaking medicines that can significantly improve the lives of patients, marking a noteworthy advancement in the field of AI-driven drug development.

For Almirall, the collaboration represents its inaugural venture into de novo AI drug development.

The announcement comes shortly after Absci revealed its capability to design and validate de novo therapeutic antibodies through its innovative ‘zero-shot’ generative AI approach.

The terms of the partnership outline Absci’s application of its de novo generative AI technology to conceive and commercialise therapeutic candidates targeting two specific dermatological targets.

In addition to receiving royalties from product sales, Absci stands to gain substantial financial benefits, with the potential to receive up to approximately $650m in upfront fees, research and development (R&D) funding, and post-approval milestone payments across the two programmes, contingent upon the successful completion of all milestones.

Almirall R&D executive vice president and chief scientific officer Dr Karl Ziegelbauer said: “Almirall chose Absci because their de novo platform brings truly novel innovation in solving the industry’s most challenging targets facing high unmet medical need.

“Our partnership underlines Almirall’s commitment to target innovative approaches to help patients suffering from severe skin diseases to achieve their dream of leading a healthy life.”

Absci founder and CEO Sean McClain said: “Our partnership with Almirall marks an important leap forward for dermatologic drug development and is poised to transform the lives of millions managing skin conditions.

“We believe the collaboration will generate tremendous scientific and technical insights for using AI drug creation to treat chronic inflammatory diseases more broadly.

“Working with a global leader and visionary in skin disease on this ambitious project will accelerate our journey in creating better biologics for a broad range of diseases affecting millions daily.”