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Dec. 2, 2023

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Absci announces new partnership, records loss for Q3

Vancouver company to be working with Spanish skin-health firm

By , Columbian staff writer
2 Photos
Principal scientist Keerthi Prasad Venkataramanan talks about a fermentation process being performed in a lab at Absci in 2021. "We are changing the world one protein at a time," he said. (Randy L.
Principal scientist Keerthi Prasad Venkataramanan talks about a fermentation process being performed in a lab at Absci in 2021. "We are changing the world one protein at a time," he said. (Randy L. Rasmussen for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Vancouver biotechnology company Absci announced a new dermatological drug partnership Tuesday, along with continued financial losses and declining revenue.

Absci said it is working with Spanish skin health pharmaceutical company Almirall to discover and develop treatments for dermatological diseases and accelerate discovery for broader chronic inflammatory diseases.

The partnership will work to make commercialized therapeutic candidates for two dermatological targets.

“Our partnership with Almirall marks an important leap forward for dermatologic drug development and is poised to transform the lives of millions managing skin conditions,” said Sean McClain, Absci founder and CEO, in a statement Tuesday.

McClain said his team believes the collaboration will provide more insight into using artificial intelligence drug creation in treating chronic inflammatory diseases more broadly.

“Working with a global leader and visionary in skin disease on this ambitious project will accelerate our journey in creating better biologics for a broad range of diseases affecting millions daily,” said McClain.

Absci uses its database and artificial intelligence platform to discover biologic drugs, speeding up the drug discovery process and potentially bringing drugs to the market faster than the traditional process.

The Almirall deal could bring Absci $650 million in upfront fees, research and development, and post-approval milestone payments across the two target programs.

Meanwhile, the company reported a $22 million net loss, 24 cents per diluted share, during its third quarter — July, August and September. The number was an improvement from the $27.3 million loss the company reported in the third quarter of 2022.

Timing in the development process and the company’s partner program mix drove the company’s revenue down to $700,000 in its third quarter, down from $2.4 million for the same time last year, the company reported.

In the past couple of years, Absci has worked with the California Institute of Technology on HIV therapeutic vaccinations and created drugs for pharmaceutical giant Merck.

More AI-driven startup companies are entering the drug-development sector, according to a report from the National Institutes of Health.

“It is likely that AI will become an invaluable tool in the pharmaceutical industry in the near future,” read the report.

The company, founded in 2011, went public in 2021, the same year it moved its headquarters to east Vancouver.

Absci trades on the Nasdaq as ABSI. Its stock closed Wednesday at $1.40 per share, the same as Tuesday’s $1.40 close.

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