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Dundee spin-out behind OCD treatment starts world’s first AI drug trial



University of Dundee spin-out Exscientia has begun clinical trials of the world’s first drug to be developed using artificial intelligence (AI).

Trials of Exscientia’s “DSP-1181” drug candidate, which is designed to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), have got underway in Japan. The company, which moved its head office to Oxford in 2018, is working in partnership with Japanese drug developer Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma.

Frontier IP, the Edinburgh-based firm that helps universities to commercialise their intellectual property (IP), owns a 3.25% stake in Exscientia, which also has partnerships with drug companies including Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Sanofi. Last year Exscientia raised $26 million (£20 million) from new investors Celgene and GT Healthcare Capital Partners and existing investor Evotec in one of the biggest Scottish deals of the year, taking its total haul to $43.7 million over three funding rounds and sparking talk of a stock market listing.

Andrew Hopkins, professor of medicinal informatics at the University of Dundee and chief executive of Exscientia, said: “We believe that this entry of DSP-1181, created using AI, into clinical studies is a key milestone in drug discovery. We are proud that our AI drug discovery platform Centaur Chemist has contributed to generate DSP-1181 and look forward to its progression as a treatment for OCD.”

Toru Kimura, senior executive officer at Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma, added: “We are very excited with the results of the joint research that resulted in the development of candidate compounds in a very short time. We will continue to work hard to make this clinical study a success so that it may deliver new benefits to patients as soon as possible.”

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