Iktos Acquires Synsight, a Company Specializing in Protein-Protein & RNA-Protein Interactions-Targeted Drug Discovery

Iktos recently announced the acquisition of Synsight, a French biotech company applying AI and high-content cell imaging to the discovery of novel drug candidates. The operation completes Iktos’ unique platform in AI and Robotics-assisted drug discovery.

Under an exclusive license from INSERM, Synsight has developed MT Bench™, a technology that detects protein-protein (PPI) and RNA-protein interactions (RPI) in cellulo with unprecedented performance and enables the screening of molecules that can modulate these interactions.

Iktos, a leading European company in GenAI for Drug Discovery with a strong track record of successful collaborations with biopharmaceutical companies, is developing Iktos Robotics, a unique AI-driven robotic synthesis platform to accelerate and automate drug discovery, so far a highly manual and resource intensive process.

In addition, the integration of Synsight’s MT Bench technology will bring a key complementary element to the Iktos Robotics platform: the biological testing of synthesized compounds. Synsight further strengthens Iktos’ drug discovery value chain, enabling the company to internalize biological testing which has been outsourced until now thus further accelerate the design-make-test process.

The integration will also enable Iktos to launch drug discovery programs targeting PPI’s and RPI’s, which play a critical role in many diseases such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Founded by Cyril Bauvais, and Guillaume Bollot, Synsight, a member of the Genopole biocluster, is based at the Evry Genopole and operates a joint laboratory with Université Evry Paris Saclay (UMR 1204 SABNP laboratory). The company uses cellular imaging, AI and robotization to drive the discovery of PPI- and RPI-targeted drug candidates.

“This acquisition is an important milestone for Iktos,” said Yann Gaston-Mathé, co-founder and CEO of Iktos. “Iktos, a leader in AI-driven Drug Discovery, unlocks bottlenecks in challenging programs and accelerates identification of drug candidates. The acquisition of Synsight enables Iktos to expand its platform to new modulators of PPI’s and RPI’s, historically highly challenging targets, thereby addressing major unmet medical needs in various therapeutic areas such as cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.”

Alexis Denis, SVP, Head of Drug Discovery at Iktos, added “PPI and RPI are two very important target families as they regulate major biological mechanisms and play a major role in many diseases. They are very promising, but highly challenging targets and notoriously hard to drug. Synsight’s MT Bench technology platform is a fantastic tool to study those interactions and identify novel molecules to modulate these targets. Combined with Iktos Generative AI technology and Robotics platform, we are confident that we will have a unique tool to make breakthroughs in this challenging but very promising field.”

Cyril Bauvais, co-founder and President of Synsight, also added “I’m very happy to become part of the Iktos team and at the perspective of adding our platform to build a one-of-its-kind drug discovery engine. Iktos superior generative AI and retrosynthesis AI technology combined with our expertise in high content cellular screening and detection of molecular interactions within the cell will provide us with a competitive advantage in targeting PPIs and RPIs. I, as well as the whole Synsight team, look forward to a successful collaboration with our new colleagues.”

Iktos is a French start-up company specializing in artificial intelligence and robotic solutions applied to research in medicinal chemistry and new drug design. Iktos is developing a proprietary and innovative generative AI solution which enables the design of molecules that are optimized in silico to meet all the success criteria of a small molecule discovery project. The use of Iktos technology enables major productivity gains in upstream pharmaceutical R&D. Iktos offers its technology through the SaaS software platforms Makya for generative drug design and Spaya for retrosynthesis, and through strategic collaborations with pharma companies where Iktos mobilizes its unique platform and leading-edge capabilities to expedite small molecule drug discovery for the benefit of its partners. Iktos has also developed Iktos Robotics, a unique AI-driven synthesis automation platform that dramatically accelerates the Design-Make-Test-Analyze cycle in drug discovery and is developing its own pipeline of drug candidates targeting oncology and auto-immune and inflammatory diseases. In March 2023, Iktos completed a 15.5M€ Series A financing round co-led by M Ventures and Debiopharm Innovation with contribution by Omnes Capital. For more information, visit http://www.iktos.ai/.

SYNSIGHT is a French company specialized in discovery and development of therapeutic molecules, specifically targeting protein-RNA interactions. Thanks to its discovery platform, at the convergence of artificial intelligence and cellular imaging, SYNSIGHT develops a portfolio of proprietary and partnered small molecule therapeutic projects.

Within living cells, all macromolecules: proteins, RNA, DNA interact together within complex and interconnected networks via multiple interactions which play a fundamental role at all levels of the cell. Metabolism, signaling and cell proliferation, intercellular communication or even the maintenance of membrane architecture are notably regulated by numerous linked to protein-protein interactions (PPI). The same is true for the large family of proteins that interact with RNA. Indeed, the fate of coding and non-coding RNAs (stability, trafficking in the cell) is very strongly associated with the interactions of RNAs with these proteins (RPI). The search for small molecules that specifically disrupt these networks and interactions therefore constitutes a very promising field for developing new targeted therapies, particularly in oncology and neurodegenerative diseases.

The MT Bench (Microtubule Bench) technology was originally developed at INSERM, and further developed by Synsight through the application of lab automation, robotics, high-content imaging and AI/ML to enable screening and optimization of drug molecules. It uses the cellular microtubule network as a bench to detect and quantify protein-protein and protein-RNA interactions, providing valuable qualitative and quantitative data in a cellular context. The MT Bench is particularly innovative because it allows for the direct observation of how small molecules modulate those interactions, making it possible to assess compound efficacy directly from inside the cell. This is crucial for an accurate understanding of the behavior of potential drug candidates in a biologically relevant environment. In the field of RNA-targeting drug discovery, where precise and effective targeting of RNA-protein interactions has been a major challenge, this makes MT Bench a unique and invaluable tool with groundbreaking potential.