Atomwise signs strategic research collaboration with Sanofi for AI-powered drug discovery

August 22, 2022 by Alyson Bruce

U of T drug discovery scale-up Atomwise has established a strategic and exclusive research collaboration with Sanofi that will leverage its AtomNet® platform for computational discovery and research of up to five drug targets.

The Atomwise approach shifts the mode of drug discovery away from serendipitous discovery and toward search based on structure, making the drug discovery process more rational, effective, and efficient. The AtomNet platform incorporates deep learning for structure-based drug design, enabling the rapid, AI-powered search of Atomwise’s proprietary library of more than 3 trillion synthesizable compounds.

“At Atomwise, our mission is to use our unique technology to make better medicines, faster, by unlocking targets that have been inaccessible to traditional small molecule discovery approaches,” said Abraham Heifets (PhD 2014), co-founder and CEO of Atomwise. “We are pleased to enter into this collaboration with Sanofi, which serves as continued validation of the important role that AI-powered platforms will play in accelerating the discovery of new therapies for diseases and conditions that may have gone untreated due to challenging or uncharacterized drug targets.”

Co-founded by U of T alumni Heifets, Izhar Wallach (MSc 2009; PhD 2012) and Alexander Levy (HBA 2010), Atomwise says its AI technology has the potential to fix a key problem for the pharmaceutical industry: declining productivity as pharma companies achieve fewer breakthroughs per research dollar. 

Atomwise was conceived amid a trip through a U of T entrepreneurship program run by the Centre for Entrepreneurship (formerly the Impact Centre), one of nine on-campus accelerators. The startup also tapped into other resources for startups at U of T, including the Creative Destruction Lab accelerator and the SOSCIP computing partnership.

It was later accepted into the Y Combinator accelerator in Silicon Valley. 

Read more about the partnership