News | November 5, 2020

Iktos Announces Additional Collaboration With Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany In AI For New Drug Design

PARIS--(BUSINESS WIRE)--

Iktos, a company specialized in Artificial Intelligence (AI) for new drug design, today announced an additional collaboration agreement in AI for new drug design with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company. In this new collaboration, Iktos’ de novo generative design technology will be used in a structure-enabled context to facilitate the rapid and cost-effective design of an undisclosed Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany drug discovery program.

Iktos’ AI technology, based on deep generative models, helps bring speed and efficiency to the drug discovery process, by automatically designing virtual novel molecules that have desired activities for treating a given disease. This tackles one of the key challenges in drug design: rapid identification of molecules which simultaneously satisfy multiple bioactivity and drug-like criteria for drug discovery and development. In the context of the new collaboration, Iktos’ generative AI technology will be combined with structure-based modelling, with an iterative design of structures maximizing protein-ligand interaction, enabling identification of novel structures beyond the chemical space already explored in the project.

“AI has the potential to improve and accelerate the drug discovery process, which could mean faster access to novel treatment options for patients,” said Joern-Peter Halle, Global Head of Research for the Healthcare business sector of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. “This additional collaboration with Iktos illustrates our commitment to partnerships to access the latest technology to enrich our discovery engine.”

“We are thrilled to enter into this additional collaboration with Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany following on the announcement of the initial collaboration in 2019,” commented Yann Gaston-Mathé, President and CEO of Iktos. “We are proud to have earned the trust of our collaborators and hope to demonstrate further value for Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s project with the application of our structure-guided generative AI technology. Merck’s scientists are already using our de novo design software platform Makya™ for Multi Parameter Optimization (MPO) and their feedback is highly valuable in guiding us to improve our product and better address the market’s needs.”

Iktos has emerged in the last 3 years as a world leader in AI for drug design. In 2018, Iktos was the first AI company to publish an experimental validation of the generative AI technology for MPO in a real-life drug discovery project, and since then has announced collaborations with biopharmaceutical companies. Iktos markets its AI technology both as services and as software products. Iktos’ generative AI SaaS software, Makya™, has been deployed to several customers, and Spaya™, Iktos’ retro-synthesis AI SaaS platform, which has been accessible on the Web since March 2020, is currently being deployed as a custom version within the collaborator’s IT infrastructure.

About Iktos
Incorporated in October 2016, Iktos is a French start-up company specialized in the development of artificial intelligence solutions applied to chemical research, more specifically medicinal chemistry and new drug design. Iktos is developing a proprietary and innovative solution based on deep learning generative models, which enables, using existing data, to design molecules that are optimized in silico to meet all the success criteria of a small molecule discovery project. The use of Iktos technology enables major productivity gains in upstream pharmaceutical R&D. Iktos offers its technology both as professional services and as a SaaS software platform, Makya™. Iktos is also developing Spaya™, a synthesis planning software based upon Iktos’ proprietary AI technology for retrosynthesis.

More information on: http://www.iktos.ai/

About Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany
Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, a leading science and technology company, operates across healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 57,000 employees work to make a positive difference to millions of people’s lives every day by creating more joyful and sustainable ways to live. From advancing gene editing technologies and discovering unique ways to treat the most challenging diseases to enabling the intelligence of devices – the company is everywhere. In 2019, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, generated sales of € 16.2 billion in 66 countries.

The company holds the global rights to the name and trademark “Merck” internationally. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the business sectors of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany operate as EMD Serono in healthcare, MilliporeSigma in life science, and EMD Performance Materials. Since its founding in 1668, scientific exploration and responsible entrepreneurship have been key to the company’s technological and scientific advances. To this day, the founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed company.

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