Isomorphic signs drug discovery deals with Eli Lilly and Novartis

8 Jan 2024

Image: © J Bettencourt/

The company aims to use the power of AI to tackle various diseases and could receive nearly $3bn from its new research collaborations.

DeepMind spin-out Isomorphic Labs has signed two deals with pharma giants to discover new drugs, which could lead to billions in profit for the company.

The Alphabet company was created in 2021 to build on the success of AlphaFold, DeepMind’s AI that created a detailed database of proteins and eventually predicted the structure of more than 200m proteins.

Isomorphic uses AI to accelerate drug discovery and find cures for some of the most devastating diseases. The first of its latest deals is with Novartis, which will see the companies collaborate to find small molecule therapeutics against three undisclosed targets.

Under the terms of the agreement, Isomorphic will receive an upfront payment of $37.5m and funding for select research costs. Isomorphic said it is eligible to receive up to $1.2bn in performance-based milestone payments.

“Cutting-edge AI technologies such as AlphaFold hold the potential to transform how we discover new drugs and accelerate our ability to deliver life-changing medicines for patients,” said Fiona Marshall, Novartis president of biomedical research.

“This collaboration harnesses our companies’ unique strengths, from AI and data science to medicinal chemistry and deep disease area expertise, to realise new possibilities in AI-driven drug discovery. We are thrilled to explore uncharted frontiers together with the Isomorphic team.”

The second deal is a research collaboration with Eli Lilly with similar goals of finding small molecule therapeutics against multiple targets. Isomorphic will receive an upfront cash payment of $45m and is eligible to receive up to $1.7bn performance-based milestone payments.

“We’re thrilled to embark on this partnership and apply our proprietary technology platform, the next generation of AlphaFold, and access to massive computing power to Lilly’s development programs,” said Isomorphic Labs founder and CEO Demis Hassabis.

“The focus we share on advancing groundbreaking drug design approaches and appreciation of state-of-the-art science makes this partnership particularly compelling.”

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic