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Collaboration › Details

AstraZeneca–SandboxAQ: AI-based drug discovery, 202306 collab existent disclosed of AZ with AQBioSim


Period Period 2023-06-22
Organisations Partner, 1st AstraZeneca plc (LSE: AZN)
  Group AstraZeneca (Group)
  Partner, 2nd AQBioSim, biopharma molecular simulation division of SandboxAQ
  Group SandboxAQ (Group)
Products Product AI-based drug discovery / AI-based drug development
  Product 2 quantum computing

SandboxAQ. (6/22/23). "Press Release: SandboxAQ Announces Biopharma Molecular Simulation Division to Speed Life-Saving Drugs to Patients Through AI and Quantum Solutions". Palo Alto, CA.

Leading biopharma companies such as AstraZeneca and Sanofi are working with SandboxAQ’s drug discovery and development tools to accelerate R&D from molecules to medicine

After several years of stealth development, SandboxAQ today formally announced its biopharma molecular simulation division, AQBioSim, and some of its customers. The division is helping biopharma and research institutions achieve breakthroughs in treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other conditions. The company is currently working with a range of biopharma companies and university research labs, including AstraZeneca, Sanofi and UC San Francisco.

Paul Hudson, CEO of Sanofi said, “We are very interested in the work SandboxAQ is doing to revolutionize drug discovery and development via in-silico simulation of molecular interactions using AI and quantum technologies. SandboxAQ’s leapfrog technology could significantly impact both preclinical and clinical development of drugs, and we look forward to seeing how it could support us in delivering life-changing treatments to patients worldwide, faster.”

“SandboxAQ is at the forefront of combining AI and quantum techniques to address large, enterprise challenges. SandboxAQ’s technology is revolutionizing the drug discovery and development process,” said Eric Schmidt, Chairman of the Board of SandboxAQ. “Through collaboration with Sanofi, UCSF and others, SandboxAQ is reducing the time and cost of bringing life-saving treatments to the clinic. This is just the beginning of the applications of AQ technology across our economy.”

SandboxAQ improves upon existing methods by delivering faster time-to-solution, while retaining accuracy. Initial customer milestones show that these technologies can decrease the time and cost of developing new therapies, and de-risk drug portfolios before entering preclinical and clinical stages.

"Our AQ-powered solutions accelerate the drug discovery and development process, mitigating its slow, complex, and error-prone nature," said Nadia Harhen, leader of the AQBioSim division. "By shortening the discovery funnel, de-risking portfolios, and uncovering winning formulas earlier, we empower biopharma companies and research institutions to prioritize promising compounds, accelerate therapy development, extend patent lifetimes, drive revenue growth, and get cures to patients faster."

The technologies were leveraged through a collaboration with UCSF’s Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases in an effort to apply AI-powered simulation to rapidly identify potential therapies for neurodegenerative disorders. As part of the development, the researchers used SandboxAQ’s proprietary Absolute Free Energy Perturbation (AQ-FEP™) software to generate thousands of predictions of molecular interactions, leading to some exciting new compounds.

“Neurodegenerative diseases are enormously complex and defy standard drug design,” said Stanley B. Prusiner, MD, who leads the UCSF Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases. “We need rational and structure-based design methods that can address the challenging diseases we face. Given the devastating nature of these diseases and the lack of effective therapies to treat them, techniques that accelerate new leads and reduce our discovery timelines are greatly needed.”

SandboxAQ’s unique AQ-FEP software brings cutting edge physics-based accuracy to the initial stages of the drug discovery pipeline. The company’s team of physicists, biologists, as well as computational and medicinal chemists have a track record of developing highly effective strategies to scale up quantum chemical simulations using massively parallel classical hardware, including large scale linear algebra with TPUs, large scale DFT results (SandboxAQ presently holds the record for the largest N^3 DFT simulation) and a Post-Hartree-Fock method called DMRG, scaled up to unprecedented size. These tools serve as the catalyst for a suite of drug discovery solutions that combine the accuracy of quantum mechanical equations with the speed and power of AI, available on classical computing hardware. Subsequent advancements include large-scale molecular dynamics simulations able to handle complex, undruggable targets.

Other prominent researchers have praised SandboxAQ’s approach and ability to accelerate drug discovery. Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee, staff cancer physician at Columbia University Medical Center and Pulitzer prize winner, said, “SandboxAQ is unique, and the only partner that I’ve seen deliver on first-in-class molecules. Their ability to do meaningful quantum chemistry computation on today’s hardware is critical to the first principles approach that is needed now, both in oncology and other major conditions.”

“We are excited about our partnership with SandboxAQ where we are accelerating drug candidate identification and optimization on novel targets within the Riboscience portfolio,” said Dr. Klaus Klumpp, co-founder and president of Riboscience. “SandboxAQ's unprecedented large-scale absolute free energy perturbation solution is transforming our virtual screening campaign execution and allowing us to profile in-silico more than 20,000 ligands per day.”

“SandboxAQ’s AI-powered quantum technologies continue to revolutionize and disrupt industries, but few will experience such a transformative impact as biopharma and life sciences,” said Dr. Kristin Gilkes, EY Global Quantum Leader. “The company unabashedly seeks out the toughest challenges and applies technology and expertise to deliver impactful solutions – in this case, significantly advancing R&D for undruggable illnesses like cancer and Alzheimer’s that have confounded the industry for decades. EY is excited to be collaborating with SandboxAQ in its mission to reimagine drug discovery and development.”

For general information about SandboxAQ’s Quantum Simulation & Optimization offerings, please visit Biopharma research organizations seeking information on how AQ-FEP can accelerate their current computational workflows, please email

About SandboxAQ

SandboxAQ is an enterprise SaaS company, providing solutions at the nexus of AI and Quantum technology (AQ) to address some of the world's greatest challenges. The company's core team and inspiration formed at Alphabet Inc., emerging as an independent, growth-capital-backed company in 2022. SandboxAQ is backed by T. Rowe Price, Guggenheim Partners, Eric Schmidt (chairman of SandboxAQ), Breyer Capital, Marc Benioff and other leading investors. For more information, visit

Record changed: 2023-06-24


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