Pharmaceutical Collaboration Unveils Multi-Billion Dollar Deal


  • Bayer and Recursion Pharmaceuticals Strengthen Partnership
  • Bayer’s Shift from Fibrotic Diseases to Oncology
  • Recursion Expands Capacities and Collaborates with Tempus Pharma

Bayer and Recursion Pharmaceuticals have restructured and expanded their collaboration, focusing on artificial intelligence (AI)-powered drug discovery with a newfound emphasis on cancer. The revised deal, potentially valued at $1.5 billion, will see the two companies engage in up to seven precision oncology projects.

Bayer’s strategic move involves leveraging Recursion’s innovative drug discovery platform, integrating a vast dataset comprising five trillion biological and chemical relationships. This platform combines wet-lab biology and chemistry with machine learning tools, offering a digitized approach to drug discovery. Notably, the dataset encompasses 50 human cell types and a library of approximately 1.7 million small molecules, supported by the BioHive-1 supercomputer, a collaboration with NVIDIA.

Under the terms of the revamped agreement, Bayer secures the option for exclusive licensing of novel therapeutics originating from the collaborative precision oncology program.

Recognition of disruptive potential

Bayer’s venture capital arm had previously participated in Recursion’s $239 million Series D financing in 2020, leading to a five-year research collaboration concentrating on fibrotic diseases. Though this initial collaboration has concluded, Bayer, acknowledging the transformative potential of Recursion’s technology, has shifted its focus to incorporate the platform into its oncology pipeline.

Juergen Eckhardt, Head of Business Development at Bayer, expressed confidence in Recursion’s platform, deeming it potentially “one of the most disruptive technologies of our time.”

In tandem with the revised partnership, Recursion disclosed a four-fold expansion of its computation capacity allocation on BioHive-1. Additionally, the company has entered into an alliance with Tempus Pharma, a fellow AI drug discovery entity. This collaboration grants Recursion access to Tempus Pharma’s proprietary, de-identified patient dataset in cancer, spanning DNA, RNA, health records, and other pertinent data sources.

As part of this agreement, Recursion will disburse up to $160 million to Tempus over the next five years in either cash or equity.

Industry recognition and future prospects

Recursion’s platform has garnered attention from major pharmaceutical players, with Roche/Genentech entering into a decade-long partnership in 2021, focusing on neuroscience and oncology drugs. This collaboration involved a substantial $150 million upfront payment and holds the potential for several billion dollars in value if fully exercised. Recently, the Roche/Genentech alliance achieved its first ‘hit series’ for an undisclosed oncology target.

Chris Gibson, Co-founder and CEO of Recursion, emphasized the significance of operating at the convergence of rigorous science, scaled datasets, and accelerated computing. The expanded alliance with Bayer underscores the broad applicability of Recursion’s platform, particularly in addressing challenging targets in oncology with the shared goal of enhancing the efficiency of bringing better medicines to patients.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of AI-powered drug discovery, partnerships like the one between Bayer and Recursion exemplify the industry’s commitment to harnessing advanced technologies for improved healthcare outcomes. The collaboration not only reflects the confidence of pharmaceutical giants in Recursion’s capabilities but also signals a collective pursuit of innovative solutions to complex medical challenges.

As Recursion continues to bolster its computational capabilities and forge alliances with key players like Tempus Pharma, the trajectory of AI in drug discovery appears poised for further advancements, promising groundbreaking developments in the realm of precision medicine and oncology therapeutics.

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Derrick Clinton

Derrick is a freelance writer with an interest in blockchain and cryptocurrency. He works mostly on crypto projects' problems and solutions, offering a market outlook for investments. He applies his analytical talents to theses.

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