Alphabet’s AI-driven drug discovery startup Isomorphic lands $3 billion pharma deals with Lilly and Novartis

Alphabet’s Isomorphic, an AI-driven drug discovery startup, has scored two major deals from pharmaceutical giants Eli Lilly and Novartis, ringing in at nearly $3 billion combined. These deals will notably bolster Google DeepMind’s AlphaFold AI technology, known for predicting protein structures to expedite target discovery and compound creation.

The news comes on the heels of the ongoing J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, set to continue until January 11. Eli Lilly’s deal is valued at up to $1.5 billion, while Novartis’s deal reaches up to $1.4 billion. Both collaborations leverage Isomorphic’s AI platform for the identification and development of novel drug candidates.

As part of the deal, Eli Lilly will invest an upfront payment of $45 million for the exploration of small molecule therapies against undisclosed diseases, with additional milestone payments exceeding $1.7 billion. Isomorphic indicates that newer versions of AlphaFold extend beyond protein predictions to encompass small molecules and nucleic acids, FierceBiotech reported.

Similarly, the agreement with Novartis involves $37.5 million upfront, with the potential for $1.2 billion in biobucks. Isomorphic’s role includes identifying small molecules for three undisclosed targets. The AI biotech will employ machine learning to analyze vast datasets, encompassing genetic information, protein structures, and clinical trial results, to efficiently identify promising drug targets and design and test new drugs.

These deals signify a substantial vote of confidence in Isomorphic’s technology and its potential to revolutionize the drug discovery sector. Given the traditionally slow and expensive nature of pharmaceutical development, Isomorphic’s AI platform could significantly streamline the process, reducing both the time and costs associated with bringing new drugs to market.

The timing of these agreements, just ahead of the prominent J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, suggests that Isomorphic aims to capitalize on the momentum generated by these deals and solidify its position as a major player in drug discovery. Overall, this development is highly positive for Alphabet, showcasing the potential of Isomorphic’s technology to positively impact patients’ lives by expediting the introduction of new drugs in a more cost-effective manner.

We covered Isomorphic back in November after Alphabet announced the launch of the new drug discovery startup in the U.K. Isomorphic builds on research that was carried out by London artificial intelligence lab DeepMind, an AI startup company Google acquired in 2014. Meanwhile, Nexperia, a Dutch firm that is 100%-owned by China’s Wingtech Technology, told CNBC that the deal talks are ongoing.

According to a filing with Companies House, the U.K. company registry, Isomorphic Labs was incorporated in February but Alphabet is just making the announcement public for the first time. Demis Hassabis, the co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, is also the founder and CEO of Isomorphic Labs. He will remain CEO of DeepMind.