10 pioneering companies implementing AI in drug discovery, development and beyond

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The pharma industry is embracing artificial intelligence (AI) to streamline drug discovery and development, although adoption remains early. The field, however, is rapidly expanding. The global AI in drug discovery market was worth about $1.1 billion last year but could grow at a 30% clip from 2023 to 2030, according to Grand View Research. 

In the years to come, AI could find use to discover an array of drug targets while improving drug developers’ ability to design molecules based on fine-grained criteria. Here, we spotlight several companies exploring the use of AI in drug discovery and drug development.

1. Exscientia

Oxford, UK–based Exscientia (Nasdaq: EXAI) has pioneered AI in small-molecule drug design. The company has expanded its AI-based platform to develop novel therapeutic antibodies through generative AI design. In early 2020, the company reported the first AI-d…

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Janssen exec discusses company’s precision neuroscience strategy and partnerships

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In mid-April, San Diego–based Pipeline Therapeutics announced a global license and development agreement with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV (NYSE:JNJ), focusing on PIPE-307, an investigational compound targeting nervous system disorders. As a pioneer in precision neuroscience, Pipeline Therapeutics aims to create targeted treatments for patients. PIPE-307, an oral, highly selective antagonist of the muscarinic M1 receptor, embodies this approach, having completed two phase 1 clinical trials and obtained FDA clearance for clinical development in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients. Janssen received a worldwide, exclusive license to research and develop PIPE-307 in all indications.

Under the agreement, Pipeline will receive $50 million upfront from Janssen, with the possibility of receiving an additional $25 million in equity investments from J&J and Pipeline’…

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AI in drug development: Janssen exploring potential of AI in everything from target discovery to clinical trials

As enterprise AI adoption surges, the life science industry stands at a pivotal juncture. “We are truly at a tipping point,” remarked Najat Khan, chief data science officer at Janssen, during the 2023 Stanford Drug Discovery Symposium. “It’s amazing how quickly we’ve been able to make progress across the whole value chain in terms of drug development,” she said. “The reality is that there’s a lot of hype, but there is already a lot that’s happening.”

While most Big Pharma companies are exploring AI applications, as a 2022 Clinical Trials Arena article noted. It’s easy to understand why. While developing a given drug might take more than a decade, AI could potentially enable the development of “drugs in one-tenth of the time, from being discovered to being able to treat patients,” wrote McKinsey partner Alex Deverson in late 2022.

Janssen is aiming to distinguish itself by building a team of “bilingual”…

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Janssen sees Blood Cancer Awareness Month as an opportunity to close the clinical trial diversity gap

Janssen (NYSE:JNJ) is working to highlight the importance of cancers such as leukemias, lymphomas and multiple myeloma for Blood Cancer Awareness Month in September.

Some 1.5 million people in the U.S. are currently living with or in remission from blood cancers, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Roughly 35,000 people are diagnosed with multiple myeloma each year, according to the American Cancer Society.

In addition to highlighting the incidence of hematologic malignancies, Blood Cancer Awareness Month offers an opportunity to provide education about the need for improved clinical trial diversity. While the industry has made strides recently, people of color continue to be underrepresented in clinical trials. According to FDA data, in 2020, three-quarters of trial participants were white, while only 8% were Black. That same year, 11% of clinical trial participants were Hispanic.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 13.6% of the U.S. popu…

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Johnson & Johnson to pay $39M to settle New Hampshire opioid allegations

Johnson & Johnson and its U.S.-based subsidiary Janssen have reached a settlement agreement with the State of New Hampshire to resolve opioid allegations. 

J&J will pay $39 million and an additional roughly $1.5 million to New Hampshire under the deal, which relates to a suit filed in 2018. New Hampshire will be reimbursed for the latter sum because the state did not participate in a nationwide settlement fund. 

The company has announced a series of similar recent settlements of opioid allegations. Toward the beginning of the year, Johnson & Johnson and drug distributors agreed to pay $590 million in an opioid settlement agreement with U.S. tribes. In April, J&J reached a deal with West Virginia to pay $99 million to resolve opioid-related claims. In the same month, it reached an opioid deal worth $77 million with Alabama. Finally, in July, California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a $26 billion settlement with J&J and other companies …

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Janssen gets positive CHMP opinion for Imbruvica for adults with untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Janssen (NYSE:JNJ) announced that the Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has recommended approval of Imbruvica (ibrutinib) with venetoclax (I+V) for adults with previously untreated chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).

In the EU, the drug is also indicated for certain patients with mantle cell lymphoma, previously treated chronic lymphocytic leukemia and Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia, also known as lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma.

CHMP’s recent positive opinion was based on the Phase 3 GLOW and Phase 2 CAPTIVATE studies.

Janssen noted in a press release that if the new indication is approved, Imbruvica will be the first oral, once-daily, fixed-duration, combination regimen for first-line treatment of CLL.

Janssen developed the drug with Pharmacyclics LLC, an AbbVie company.

Imbruvica is a Bruton’s tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Venetoclax is an apoptosis stimulant and proto…

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Evotec enters drug discovery alliance with Janssen

Evotec SE (Nasdaq:EVO) announced that it will work with Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, a subsidiary of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies (NYSE:JNJ), to identify drug targets and to partner on hit identification and lead optimization of chemical assets.

The partnership will center around Evotec’s end-to-end drug discovery and development platform.

“We are very proud to enter into this collaboration to explore unique approaches to high potential cell surface drug targets with novel therapeutic modalities and to deliver and make innovative therapeutic options available to patients,” said Dr. Cord Dohrmann, chief scientific officer of Evotec, in a press release.

Evotec could receive up to €210 million per project plus tiered royalties related to products ensuing from the partnership.

Earlier this year, Evotec announced a similar collaboration with Bristol Myers Squibb focused on protein degradation.

The company also announced a pact with the biop…

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Tremfya shows durable efficacy for psoriatic arthritis joint and axial symptoms 

Janssen (NYSE:JNJ) has released new data showing the efficacy of the IL-23 inhibitor Tremfya (guselkumab) for a variety of psoriatic arthritis (PsA) symptoms for up to two years.

Patients with active psoriatic arthritis treated with guselkumab in Phase 3 studies had consistent, long-term efficacy over two years. Specifically, patients who received the drug had improvements related to joint, skin, enthesitis, dactylitis, spinal pain and disease severity endpoints.

Janssen also noted that analyses of its clinical trial data revealed that guselkumab supported broad improvements in health-related quality of life (HRQoL), including metrics such as fatigue, pain and work productivity.

Janssen presented the data culled from the DISCOVER-1, DISCOVER-2, and COSMOS clinical trials at the 2022 Annual European Congress for Rheumatology (EULAR) meeting held June 1-4.

Data from the DISCOVER-2 study showed that patients who received guselkumab had improvement ac…

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Janssen reports positive clinical trial data for its Xarelto to treat PAD effects

Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE:JNJ) Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies recently announced analysis data on the benefits of Xarelto.

The Phase 3 Voyager PAD clinical trial evaluated the Xarelto (rivaroxaban) vascular dose (2.5 mg twice daily plus aspirin 100 mg once daily) in reducing severe vascular events in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD) after lower-extremity revascularization (LER).

Data from two analyses reinforced the benefit of Xarelto by demonstrating positive effects delivered by the vascular dose in PAD patients with and without chronic kidney disease (CKD) and in PAD patients with and without a history of statin therapy. Xarelto significantly reduced hospitalizations due to thrombotic events in patients who underwent LER compared to patients who took aspirin alone, Janssen said in a news release.

Voyager PAD, a study of 6,564 patients across 542 sites in 34 countries, randomized patients at a 1:1 ratio for receiving the Xarelt…

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Janssen looks to win new indication in Europe for Imbruvica for untreated mantle cell lymphoma 

Johnson & Johnson‘s Janssen unit (NYSE:JNJ) has filed a submission of a Type II variation application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for the potential approval of Imbruvica (ibrutinib) with bendamustine and rituximab (BR) to treat adults with previously untreated mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).

The indication would cover patients who are not suitable for autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT).

Bendamustine is a chemotherapy drug while and rituximab is a monoclonal antibody that slows or stops cancer growth.

JNJ shares ticked up 0.38% to $169.36 today.

Ibrutinib was jointly developed by J&J’s Janssen Biotech unit and Pharmacyclics LLC, an AbbVie company.

Image courtesy of Janssen

In the U.S, the drug first won approval for mantle cell lymphoma in 2013. The drug has won a series of new indications since then.

A daily Bruton’s tyrosine kinase…

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Janssen’s pathway strategy for immune-mediated inflammatory disease shows promise in gastroenterology

Tens of millions of Americans have immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs), including conditions as diverse as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease.

Because such diseases have an inflammatory component, a single biologic could treat multiple IMIDs. “We are committed to investigating inflammatory pathways to develop therapies that can potentially address the immense unmet need for patients living with immune-mediated diseases,” said Dr. Jan Wehkamp, Janssen’s vice president, gastroenterology disease area leader.

And thus, a drug like Janssen’s Tremfya (guselkumab), which is now indicated to treat moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in adults, could find use in gastroenterological conditions such as Crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC).

Tremfya selectively blocks the p19 subunit of interleukin (IL)-23.

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Johnson & Johnson inks agreement to have its COVID-19 vaccine manufactured in Africa

Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) announced today that it completed an agreement for the manufacturing of its COVID-19 vaccine in Africa.

The landmark agreement, made between Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals and South Africa-based Aspen SA Operations, allows for the first COVID-19 vaccine to be manufactured and made available by an African company for people living in Africa, with aims of increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates across the continent.

Get the full story at our sister site, Pharmaceutical Processing World.

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