An Alzheimer’s disease drug candidate designed using Exscientia’s artificial intelligence (AI) technology has entered Phase I clinical testing, the company announced yesterday.

The drug – DSP-0038 – is being advanced by Japanese pharma company Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma as part of a collaboration with Oxford, UK-based Exscientia.  DSP-0038 is initially being evaluated for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease psychosis.

DSP-0038 is the third molecule created using Exscientia’s AI technologies to enter the clinic, following DSP-1181, which is being developed with Sumitomo Dainippon to treat obsessive compulsive disorder, and the immuno -oncology agent EXS-21546.

Exscientia and Sumitomo Dainippon designed DSP-0038 as a single small molecule that exhibits high potency as an antagonist for the 5-HT2A receptor and the 5-HT1A receptor, while selectively avoiding similar receptors and unwanted targets.

The AI-designed drug candidate will be assessed for improved antipsychotic effects associated with Alzheimer’s psychosis, in addition to improvements in behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia including agitation, aggression, anxiety and depression.

"This is further validation that our AI platform can turn complex biological challenges into high-quality clinical candidates quickly. To have what we believe to be the world’s first three clinical molecules created using AI arising from our own platform – two with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma - is a wonderful achievement,” said Andrew Hopkins, chief executive officer of Exscientia.

"We have been impressed by the outstanding productivity of Exscientia's AI technologies. The combination of Exscientia’s AI with our company’s deep experience in monoamine GPCR drug discovery has now led to two molecules reaching our clinical pipeline from this collaboration,” added Toru Kimura, representative director, executive vice president and chief scientific officer of Sumitomo Dainippon.