Recursion, Roche, Genentech to use machine learning, HCS to drive discovery

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

December 10, 2021 -- Recursion is set to collaborate with Roche and Genentech in the fields of neuroscience and oncology to advance new medicines for patients using large-scale machine-learning and high-content screening (HCS) methods to map complex biology.

Recursion will work with Roche and Genentech (a subsidiary of Roche) R&D teams to leverage technology-enabled drug discovery through the Recursion operating system (OS) to identify novel targets and advance medicines in key areas of neuroscience and oncology.

Under the agreement, Recursion will receive an upfront payment of $150 million, and it is eligible for additional performance-based research milestones. Under the collaboration, Roche and Genentech may initiate up to 40 programs, each of which, if successfully commercialized, could yield more than $300 million in development, commercialization, and net-sales milestones for Recursion, as well as tiered royalties on net sales.

The collaboration will leverage Recursion OS to generate, analyze, and derive insights from biological and chemical datasets. The OS, which merges wet-lab and dry-lab biology at scale to further industrialize and digitize drug discovery, will be deployed to phenotypically capture chemical and genetic perturbations in neuroscience-related cell types and select cancer cell lines.

The resulting phenomics data, which will be generated in Recursion's automated laboratories, will be analyzed by Recursion's neural networks to turn the data into mathematical representations of biology that can be leveraged to identify novel biological relationships, as well as and initiate and advance therapeutic programs. The 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 maps of human cellular biology.

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

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