GlaxoSmithKline has signed a drug discovery pact with Dundee, UK-based artificial intelligence (AI) group Exscientia focused on multiple therapeutic areas.

Under the deal, Exscientia will apply its AI enabled platform and GSK its expertise to discover novel and selective small molecules for up to 10 disease-related targets.

The group will employ both its ‘Big Data’ resources including medicinal chemistry and large-scale bio-assays and its AI-driven algorithms to design novel molecules that fulfil the requirements of the lead and candidate criteria.

In return, Exscientia will bank research payments from GSK to undertake new discovery programmes with nominated targets with the goal of delivering preclinical candidates.

In addition, the firm also stands to receive near-term lead and preclinical candidate milestones if all objectives are achieved, totalling up to £33 million if all 10 projects are advanced.

“Applying our approach to client discovery projects has already delivered candidate-quality molecules in roughly one-quarter of the time, and at one-quarter of the cost of traditional approaches,” said Exscientia chief executive Andrew Hopkins.

“Delivering efficiencies to drug discovery has the potential to revolutionise the way early projects are executed, enabling more dynamic target selections from the burgeoning set of opportunities”.