Pharmatech company AQEMIA has inked a multi-year research collaboration deal worth up to $140m with Sanofi for the discovery of small molecule drug candidates across various therapeutic areas.

Under the partnership, AQEMIA will utilise its platform, which brings together generative artificial intelligence (AI) and deep physics at scale. The platform will be used to find the ideal chemical compounds for Sanofi’s therapeutic targets of interest.

This partnership will cover the whole drug discovery process, from finding the first hits to choosing the development candidate.

As per the terms of this arrangement, the French pharmatech firm will use its deep physics and generative AI algorithms and platform to design new drug molecules in close collaboration with Sanofi.

Both firms started their research collaboration in 2020 which was extended last year.

AQEMIA will produce data internally by executing large-scale physics-based calculations from the outset of all the research projects.

According to the firm, traditional AI-driven platform technologies need chemical experiment data to begin training before entering the design phase.

Sanofi intends to use its worldwide research and development proficiency to expedite the creation of medicinal products that address unfulfilled requirements.

AQEMIA CEO and co-founder Maximilien Levesque said: “This new collaboration builds on our existing research collaboration with Sanofi for the past two years.

“This whole new step is about scaling our respective expertise to multiple projects, and supporting Sanofi in discovering novel chemical matter at scale with our unique technology – including on difficult projects with limited chemical data upfront and hard issues like selectivity.”

According to the terms of the deal, AQEMIA will be qualified to receive up to $140m. This includes an upfront payment followed by contingent payments upon the fulfilment of certain research and development milestones on several therapeutic targets.

Sanofi will be responsible solely for wet lab research, development, and commercialisation activities.

Sanofi France R&D vice president Jacques Volckmann said: “This new partnership with Aqemia is part of an ongoing story that began with our French teams three years ago. During this period, we have followed with attention and enthusiasm the development of their technology that combines theoretical physics and generative AI.

“We have been able to concretely assess the interest in some of our research projects during our previous collaborations.”