Jameel Clinic teams up with Sanofi on AI and machine learning

The collaboration will develop and apply deep learning and machine learning for drug discovery

January 26, 2021
Mel J. Yeates

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—The Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health (Jameel Clinic) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has announced the first step in a long-term strategic collaboration with Sanofi SA. The Jameel Clinic and Sanofi pharmaceutical research teams plan to collaborate on the development and application of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities for drug discovery and development.

“We are excited to have Sanofi come on board as our collaborator in using data and technology to advance healthcare and positively impact the lives of people around the world,” stated Ignacio Fuentes, managing director at the Jameel Clinic. “Our new collaboration with Sanofi, which builds on our existing collaborations with pharmaceutical sector leaders, is an important step in advancing our work to reimagine the intersection of technology and health using data, AI and machine learning. Industry collaborations are vital to our ability to make new discoveries in machine learning, biology, chemistry and clinical sciences that will shape the future of drug discovery and development.” 

This new partnership is the stepping stone towards larger collaborations with Sanofi. The partners intend to expand the scope of the project to other teams within the company, in order to achieve even better results. The collaboration provides Sanofi with access to more than 50 principal investigators and researchers across MIT.

“Because our goal at Sanofi is to bring practice-changing medicines and vaccines to patients, our ambitions are very much aligned with the vision of the MIT Jameel Clinic to revolutionize healthcare and drug development. This unique access to the research that is already underway in the machine learning space will further our mission,” noted John Reed, executive vice president and global head of Research & Development at Sanofi. “We look forward to our Sanofi data scientists collaborating with experts at MIT, and leveraging innovative technology platforms that will help deliver new insights into disease pathways along with next-generation ML- and AI-enabled drug discovery and development capabilities.” 

The Jameel Clinic and Sanofi plan to work on multiple projects focused on the development of machine learning models and algorithms across a range of research areas. These areas include biologics and small molecule drug design, precision medicine (immunology and inflammation), and oncology treatment. 

Sanofi has also recently reported an acquisition agreement with Kymab, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company that develops fully human monoclonal antibodies focused on immune-mediated diseases and immuno-oncology therapeutics. The transaction means that Sanofi will end up with full global rights to KY1005, Kymab’s fully human monoclonal antibody that binds to OX40-Ligand. Kymab’s pipeline also includes KY1044, an ICOS agonist monoclonal antibody in early Phase 1/2 development, both as a monotherapy and in combination with an anti-PD-L1 therapy.

“The Kymab acquisition adds KY1005 to our dynamic pipeline, a potential first-in-class treatment for a range of immune and inflammatory diseases. The novel mechanism of action may provide treatment for patients with suboptimal responses to available therapies,” reported Paul Hudson, CEO of Sanofi, in a press release. “We understand from our ongoing work in debilitating immunological diseases how critical it is to find the right treatment for each patient. We look forward to rapidly developing this investigational medicine.”

Under the agreement, Sanofi will acquire Kymab for an upfront payment of approximately $1.1 billion, and up to $350 million upon the achievement of certain milestones. Sanofi expects to complete the acquisition in the first half of 2021. 

“The agreement is a testament to the commitment, drive and expertise of the entire Kymab team, and we are pleased to receive this endorsement from Sanofi,” added Simon Sturge, CEO of Kymab. “With its significant global resources, we believe Sanofi is the perfect partner to progress Kymab’s pipeline of products, and the merger will expedite the time it takes for our novel therapies to get to patients.”

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