Absci, which is harnessing deep learning artificial intelligence (AI) and synthetic biology to expand the therapeutic potential of proteins, entered into a research collaboration with Merck (known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada), using Absci’s AI-powered Integrated Drug Creation™ platform.

Under the collaboration, Absci will deploy its Bionic Protein™ non-standard amino acid technology to produce enzymes tailored to Merck’s biomanufacturing applications and receive an upfront and certain other milestone payments. In addition, Merck has the option to nominate up to three targets and enter into a drug discovery collaboration agreement, and Absci would then be eligible to receive up to $610 million in upfront fees and milestone payments for all three targets, as well as research funding and tiered royalties on sales.

According to Sean McClain, founder, and CEO of Absci, “We are pleased to establish this collaboration with Merck and to be working with its world class research organization to generate novel enzymes. We look forward to applying our AI-driven platform to create new biologic candidates with the potential to meaningfully improve the lives of patients.”

“At Merck we are continually evaluating new ways to build, expand and refine our biologics capabilities,” said Fiona Marshall, PhD, senior vice president and head of discovery, preclinical, and translation medicine, Merck Research Laboratories. “Absci’s platform offers a compelling opportunity to design new biologic candidates and explore the expression of complex proteins.”