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Sanofi invests in French-American startup Owkin to support drug discovery and development initiatives for four cancers.
The strategic cooperation includes a $180 million investment in Owkin and a total payment of $90 million over the next three years, in addition to milestone-based fees to be determined later.
“Owkin’s unique methodology, which applies AI to patient data from partnerships with multiple academic medical centers, supports our ambition to leverage data in R&D in innovative ways,” said Arnaud Robert, executive vice president and chief digital officer at Sanofi, in a statement.
Owkin, a precision medicine and artificial intelligence company, is known for its ability to process large data sets through predictive biomedical AI models. The global research network is powered by federated learning, allowing data scientists to securely connect to massive data sets and train AI models without the need to pool information.
This collaboration will enable Sanofi to optimize its clinical trials and identify predictive biomarkers for disease and treatment outcomes, particularly in four exclusive cancers: triple-negative breast cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, multiple myeloma and mesothelioma. Conversely, Sanofi’s investment will help leverage the Owkin platform, which aims to grow the largest histology and genomic cancer database by gathering information from the best oncology centers around the world.
“Owkin’s mission is to improve patients’ lives by using our platform to discover and develop the right treatment for each patient. Through this historic partnership with Sanofi, federated learning will be used to create research collaborations on a truly unprecedented scale. The future of AI to transform how we develop treatments is incredibly bright, and we are proud to partner with Sanofi on this mission,” said Thomas Clozel, MD, Owkin’s co-founder and chief executive.
Owkin works with leading cancer centers and pharmaceutical companies in the US and Europe. Its most notable projects include Healthchain, an AI-focused consortium funded by France’s Banque Publique d’Investissement, and MELLODDY (Machine Learning Ledger Orchestration for Drug Discovery), a machine learning program platform that stores data from various pharmaceutical companies. to help companies’ medicines. discovery attempts without compromising privacy.
This isn’t the first time the French biopharmaceutical company has teamed up with artificial intelligence specialists to support its research. In June of this year, Sanofi closed a similar agreement with another AI company CytoReason to use its cell-centered models and deconvolution techniques to discover new treatments for asthma in both children and adults. CytoReason’s computer model of the human body can simulate disease at the cellular level, allowing for more accurate human trials and reducing the need to use animal models.