Japanese pharmaceutical firm Ono Pharmaceutical has signed a discovery collaboration agreement with US-based EVQLV for the development of innovative antibody drugs.

The partnership is intended to generate novel antibodies against multiple targets selected by Ono to develop new antibody therapies.

Both firms will use EVQLV’s proprietary artificial intelligence (AI)- powered Antibody Design Engine.

The technology uses a vast range of machine learning and software engineering techniques to generate fully human and developable therapeutic antibody designs.

Ono will generate prospective antibodies based on the antibody designs produced through the collaboration to develop and commercialise antibody therapeutic candidates.

The Japanese pharmaceutical firm will provide EVQLV research funds and success-based research milestone payments during the research period.

Ono will retain the exclusive worldwide right to develop and market the antibody treatment candidates.

Ono Pharmaceutical discovery and research senior executive officer / executive director Toichi Takino said: “We have been actively working to create biologics including antibody drugs in order to address unmet medical needs for a wide range of diseases.

“We are very pleased to collaborate with EVQLV having its proprietary AI-powered Antibody Design Engine. We expect that the EVQLV’s AI- technology will enable us to create novel antibody candidates against multiple targets more promptly and effectively.”

EVQLV’s antibody design platform combines evolution, structure, and protein language models to produce target-specific antibody sequences.

The platform is said to offer a quicker route to recombinant antibody expression and functional testing by designing and modifying antibodies while maintaining their structural and functional integrity.

EVQLV CEO and co-founder Andrew Satz said: “Ono has a successful history of identifying unique targets that have translated into life-changing medicines that have helped countless patients around the world.

“At EVQLV, our mission is to make AI easily accessible to researchers in order to positively impact the odds of success in drug discovery.

“We are honoured to be working alongside the scientific and drug development experts at Ono, who have the ability to leverage our AI-designed antibodies and deliver breakthrough options for patients in need.”