Recursion, Roche-Genentech, Bayer Launch Multi-Million Dollar Collaborations

December 16, 2021

By Bio-IT World Staff 

December 16, 2021 | Recursion recently announced two collaborations: a new collaboration with Roche and Genentech to leverage technology-enabled drug discovery through the Recursion Operating System (OS), and an expansion of an existing Bayer collaboration focused on inferential search. Roche-Genentech plan to use Recursion OS to more rapidly identify novel targets and advance medicines in key areas of neuroscience as well as in an oncology indication. Bayer plans to use inferential search capabilities to expand the universe of novel fibrotic hypotheses. 

Roche-Genentech and Recursion OS

The new collaboration with Roche and Genetech will leverage the Recursion Operating System, an integrated, multi-faceted system for generating, analyzing and deriving insight from massive proprietary biological and chemical datasets. The OS, which brings together wet-lab and dry-lab biology at scale to further industrialize and digitize drug discovery, will be deployed to phenomically capture chemical and genetic perturbations in neuroscience-related cell types and select cancer cell lines. 

Under the terms of the agreement, Recursion will receive an upfront payment of $150 million and is eligible for milestone payments of $300M each for up to 40 research programs. 

The resulting phenomics data, generated in Recursion’s automated laboratories, will be analyzed by Recursion’s proprietary convolutional neural networks to turn these data into mathematical representations of biology that can be leveraged to identify novel biological relationships and initiate and advance therapeutic programs. This dataset will be potentiated by extensive single-cell perturbation screening data from Roche and Genentech, and the parties will collaborate on new machine learning algorithms to generate highly granular maps of human cellular biology.  

Under the terms of the collaboration, Roche and Genentech (combined) may initiate up to 40 programs. Each of which, if successfully developed and commercialized, could yield more than $300M in development, commercialization and net sales milestones for Recursion, as well as tiered royalties on net sales. 

“This collaboration highlights the potential of technology to transform drug discovery and unlock previously unknown insights into complex disease in an unbiased way,” said Global Head of Pharma Partnering at Roche, James Sabry, MD, PhD, in a press release. “We are excited about the opportunity this collaboration offers to help advance the development of medicines at scale.”

Recursion, Roche and Genentech will leverage the insights generated from the collaboration’s maps of human cellular biology to rapidly find and develop medicines against novel targets in neuroscience and the oncology indication for up to a decade or longer. Programs already underway at Recursion in oncology or neuroscience are not part of the collaboration and will be independently developed. 

Bayer and Inferential Search

Recursion also announced an expansion of the company’s existing strategic collaboration in fibrosis with Bayer AG. The expanded collaboration will include Recursion's powerful inferential search capabilities based on its growing maps of human cellular biology, giving Bayer the ability to further accelerate the work already underway in expanding the universe of novel fibrotic hypotheses. Recursion and Bayer may now work on more than a dozen programs in total of relevance to fibrotic disease. All projects will remain subject to the previously agreed upon economics, where each potential program could generate more than $100 million in commercial milestone payments plus royalties on future sales. 

Inferential search enables Recursion to materially expand the depth and breadth of the drug discovery space in a more efficient fashion—reducing time and costs to better operationalize the process. In the expanded collaboration, the company will leverage the Recursion Map, a collection of actionable scientific insights derived from the application of machine learning solutions on massive relatable datasets, to explore hundreds of billions of biological relationships that span whole-genome genetic perturbations, hundreds of soluble factors, and hundreds of thousands of pharmacological perturbations. Inferred relationships of interest will be validated in Recursion's wet-labs and digital vivariums to rapidly advance therapeutic hypotheses and generate data which is fed back into Recursion's Operating System to improve future predictions. 

Recursion first deployed inferential search internally in July 2020 within the oncology space. In early 2021, Recursion transitioned nearly all new internal discovery efforts to use inferential search. Based on progress achieved to date, Recursion has demonstrated that a program can advance from inference to in vivo validation in less than six months. Through the collaboration expansion, Recursion will bring this powerful new technology to Bayer in order to accelerate and expand the ongoing work the teams have undertaken together in fibrosis.