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Jacob Berlin (L) and Eli Berlin (Terray Therapeutics)

AI start­up grabs $60M, un­veils plat­form aimed at drug dis­cov­ery's 'da­ta prob­lem'

As the computational tools for drug discovery proliferate, it can start to feel like an artificial intelligence or machine learning player is entering the fray every other week. But no matter how sophisticated those algorithms are, something could still be missing.

That’s according to Terray Therapeutics, which is joining the party with $60 million after three years in stealth mode and bringing with it not just software but hardware that it describes as a chemistry engine operating at massive scale.

Jong Lee, Day Zero CEO (via Day Zero website)

Ge­nomics + ma­chine learn­ing = com­pa­ny's strat­e­gy to speed up hos­pi­tal di­ag­nos­tics and iden­ti­fy an­tibi­ot­ic re­sis­tance

Day Zero Diagnostics has been focused on combining genome sequencing and machine learning to diagnose infectious diseases. And now the diagnostics player has netted its biggest financing round yet.

Company execs announced earlier this week that the biotech netted $21 million in a venture equity financing round lead by Sands Capital. Other investors tagged on as well, including the backing of big med-tech company BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company) and Hongkou Capital as new investors.

Christopher Trummer, CelerisTx CEO

Mer­ck KGaA en­lists lit­tle AI play­er on pro­tein de­grad­er dis­cov­ery

Merck KGaA would like to come up with some protein degraders — the fashionable way.

The German pharma has tapped CelerisTx, a Menlo Park, CA-based biotech with roots in Austria, and its artificial intelligence platform for two drug discovery projects. The main goal, according to the companies, is to identify active small molecule binders.

Founded against the backdrop of emerging PROTACs and molecular glues, CelerisTx’s mission is to fill the gap for a rational approach to designing these compounds, which typically consists of two sides — one binding to the target protein, another to the E3 ligase — and a linker to pull them together.

Liran Belenzon, BenchSci co-founder and CEO

F-Prime backed start­up nabs an­oth­er $50M in bid to scale up AI R&D soft­ware

Almost two years after getting an infusion of cash from F-Prime and other big investors, Toronto biotech BenchSci is back with more money in its coffers — and plans for expansion.

The AI software startup, which last raised $22 million in a 2020 Series B, announced that it now has raised $50 million in a Series C this morning, led by previous investor Inovia Capital and new investor TCV. Inovia also led the startup’s original Series A raise. With the round now putting the company at $97 million raised, it gives the biotech more breathing room to expand.

Joanna Shields, BenevolentAI CEO (Andreas Gebert/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

Af­ter nab­bing two AI-gen­er­at­ed mol­e­cules, As­traZeneca re­turns to Benev­o­len­tAI with new col­lab­o­ra­tion

Roughly three years ago, AstraZeneca teamed up with London’s BenevolentAI to bring new drugs into its portfolio using the biotech’s AI and machine learning capabilities. Now that the original deal has borne fruit, the two companies are re-upping their collaboration.

AstraZeneca and BenevolentAI will work together in two more disease areas: systemic lupus and heart failure, the companies announced Thursday. It’s a three-year partnership that comes after two candidates discovered by BenevolentAI for chronic kidney disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis were nominated to AstraZeneca’s portfolio last year.

From L-R: Aaron Morris, Matt Robinson and Alpha Lee (PostEra)

A new AI start­up has emerged, and Pfiz­er likes what it sees

Aaron Morris and Alpha Lee met years ago while studying applied mathematics at Oxford University. They eventually went their separate ways, with Morris diving into machine learning applications in finance while Lee researched how it could transform medicinal chemistry. But sometime around 2019, Morris realized Lee was onto something.

“I think we sat down together as co-founders in 2019 and said, ‘I think there’s a kind of sufficient scientific depth here to merit forming a company around it,’” said Morris, who’s now CEO of the company, PostEra.

Sean McClain, Absci CEO

Mer­ck revs up deal­mak­ing en­gine ahead of #JPM22, ink­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions with AI pro­tein de­sign play­er Ab­sci

In the year-plus since Roger Perlmutter left his post leading Merck’s R&D efforts, the Big Pharma’s new leadership has continued to pursue an aggressive dealmaking strategy. On Friday, Merck enlisted a new partner as the spree shows no signs of slowing down.

Merck signed a pair of collaborations with Absci aiming to bolster its AI research capabilities, the companies announced Friday. The first is a relatively modest deal on Merck’s end — there are no details about the upfront or milestone payments but the duo said it could lead to more.

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Jo Varshney, VeriSIM Life CEO

Biosim­u­la­tion out­fit nets $15M Se­ries A in push to make pre­clin­i­cal R&D more pre­dictable

VeriSIM Life has been working on creating a biosimulation platform since its founding in 2017 — and after more than four years and a pre-seed and seed round, the California software firm now has a Series A under its belt.

The $15 million round, led by Morpheus Ventures and supported by new investors Debiopharm Innovation Fund and Colorcon Ventures, includes existing investors OCA Ventures, Intel Capital, Serra Ventures and Susa Ventures. The round will fund VeriSIM Life for the next 2 to 2½ years.

Mike Nally, Generate Biomedicines CEO

Am­gen part­ners with Flag­ship's ma­chine learn­ing start­up, promis­ing up to $1.9B as Big Phar­ma ups bet on AI

Amgen is approaching the new year the same way it tackled 2021: swinging deals. But now it’s aiming to bring AI capabilities into the fold.

The big biopharma is partnering with Flagship’s Generate Biomedicines on five therapeutic programs, the companies announced Thursday morning, in a collaboration that seeks to pair Generate’s machine learning algorithms with Amgen’s drug development capabilities. Amgen will pay $50 million upfront and up to $370 million in milestones for each program, which could total $1.9 billion when all is said and done.

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Gary Glick

Gary Glick puts Odyssey's $218M cash stack to use, ac­quir­ing ma­chine learn­ing out­fit

Around the same time serial entrepreneur Gary Glick was putting together his latest (and biggest yet) venture, Odyssey Therapeutics this past March, a mentee introduced him to a young London-based company working on applying machine learning to drug discovery.

Rahko, founded just three years ago by a few machine learning experts, was developing a platform right up Glick’s alley: Odyssey, as he’s conceived it, would execute on drug discovery at top speed just like IFM and Scorpion, his previous startups, but do it with a heavy dose of data science.