Creators of a new machine-learning drug discovery platform Insilico Medicine has inked a dual-program drug discovery deal with Jiangsu Chia Tai Fenghai Pharmaceutical (CTFH) worth up to $200 million.

Insilico CEO Alex Zhavoronkov.

Why it matters: The partnership is an additional sign of confidence in Insilico’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology following a $37 million Series B secured by the firm just weeks after it proved capable of identifying novel treatment candidates significantly faster than the traditional drug discovery process, which can take decades and cost billions.

Details: Together, Hong Kong-based Insilico and CTFH, which focuses on advanced research and development (R & D) technologies, will run two programs tackling previously untreatable targets in triple-negative breast cancer, using Insilico’s AI-powered platform to accelerate drug discovery and development. 

  • The deal includes an upfront payment and potential milestone and sales-based royalties if a product eventually goes to market. 
  • Insilico CEO Alex Zhavoronkov expects the partnership to last about two years, but “hopes to expand it,” he said in a statement to Endpoints News.

Context: With more than 15,000 drugs in its pipeline, the drug development sector of China’s pharmaceutical industry has grown at a 7.8% compound annual growth rate over the last five years.  

  • Similarly, the Asia-Pacific healthcare AI market is projected to grow 44.4% by 2025, and will be driven by R & D and innovation in pharmaceuticals and biotech. 
  • In a sign of the region’s aggressive push into biotech, half of the industry’s 10 biggest initial public offerings (IPOs) in the first half of 2019 were in Hong Kong and funds raised reached $3 billion combined.

Other companies, like YITU Technology and Ping An Technology, are using AI to streamline health-related processes that can be both time-consuming and technically difficult for humans to accomplish.