AstraZeneca teams with BenevolentAI on discovery, research; Cambridge spinout raises seed cash for protein degradation work
→ Right now the heat is on the Big Pharma to tie up with the upstarts of AI to see if they can streamline the discovery and early-stage development process that eats up cash and time. And today AstraZeneca jumped in with a deal to ally with BenevolentAI on new drugs for chronic kidney disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. “The vast amount of data available to research scientists is growing exponentially each year,” says AstraZeneca R&D leader Mene Pangalos. And now they plan to employ the data on their behalf.
→ University of Cambridge spinout PolyProx Therapeutics has raised £3.4 million in seed cash. The biotech is working on new tech out of professor Laura Itzhaki’s laboratory, focused on developing molecules that degrade proteins involved in tumor development. “Our platform, which harnesses the cell’s natural protein degradation pathways, should allow access to many hard-to-drug targets and enable screening of molecules against these targets more quickly than existing approaches,” noted Itzhaki, the company founder and CSO.
→ Axcella Health has laid out the terms for its IPO, looking to sell 3.6 million shares at $20 to $22 a share. At the midpoint the company would raise $75 million at a valuation of $546 million.
→ The Canadian penny stock biotech Trillium Therapeutics has announced that CEO Niclas Stiernholm has abruptly resigned from the company. As they search for a replacement, Robert L. Kirkman, the current chairman of the board, will act as executive chairman. CSO Bob Uger will assume the role of interim president.