Dundee, Scotland-based artificial intelligence group Exscientia has signed a research collaboration and licence option agreement with Sanofi focusing on the “high-interest area of metabolic disease”.

Under the alliance, Exscientia will use its platform to seek out and validate combinations of drug targets that could work synergistically and be amenable to its bispecific-small-molecule design strategy - by which a small molecule is designed to be compatible with two distinct drug targets.

Exscientia is responsible for all compound design, whilst chemistry synthesis will be delivered by Sanofi. Further assays, preclinical experiments and subsequent trials for compounds progressing to the clinic will be managed by Sanofi, where the French drugmaker exercises its licence option.

As per the terms of the deal, Exscientia will receive research funding in order to identify target pairs with the best combination of chemical compatibility and strong biological relevance plus further funding for prioritised candidate delivery opportunities.

The firm could also bag non-clinical and clinical milestones for compounds reaching agreed delivery criteria, as well as sales milestones for any products reaching the market, with the total amount potentially payable by Sanofi to Exscientia on achieving these milestones 250 million euros.