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Jeffrey Lu, Engine Biosciences CEO

Tim Lu is ready to take his AI-fo­cused biotech to the next lev­el with first big fundrais­ing round

Famous MIT researcher Tim Lu took the wraps off a transpacific biotech he’d launched a little over three years ago with his brother Jeffrey with a $10 million seed round, attempting to use machine learning to develop new small molecule drugs. Now, the company is ready to take its next step.

Engine Biosciences unveiled its first major VC round with a $43 million Series A, the biotech announced Wednesday morning. Over the last three years, the company has worked to establish its platform, Jeffrey Lu — who is Engine’s CEO — told Endpoints News, and recently nominated two targets for their internal pipeline.

Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

UP­DAT­ED: Bris­tol My­ers ex­pands Cel­gene-era deal with Ex­sci­en­tia, tak­ing its AI R&D en­gine to the next step

One day after taking a shot on an anti-TIGIT bispecific from Agenus, Bristol Myers Squibb is still in a dealmaking mood.

For Wednesday’s chaser, Bristol Myers is returning to a company that had teamed up with Celgene before its acquisition in 2019. That biotech is Exscientia, and they’ve scored an expanded deal with Bristol Myers to further build on its artificial intelligence capabilities less than a month after a massive Series D financing.

Eric Kelsic, Dyno Therapeutics CEO

Dyno's Er­ic Kel­sic fills the tank in his quest for bet­ter AAV with a group of big-name sup­port­ers on board

Adeno-associated viruses (AAV) for gene therapy have received a ton of scrutiny throughout the field’s history after a smattering of safety scares and their limited therapeutic range. Hoping to crack the field wide open through a capsid design revolution, Eric Kelsic and his team at Dyno have drummed up immense excitement — and now a hefty war chest.

Dyno Therapeutics has bagged a $100 million Series A with backing from the likes of round leader Andreessen Horowitz and new investor Casdin Capital in its quest to use AI to design better AAV capsids for gene therapy, the company said Thursday.

Andrew Radin, Aria Pharmaceuticals CEO (Aria)

An­drew Radin or­ches­trates his AI dis­cov­ery plat­for­m's piv­ot to R&D with a har­mo­nious name change and eyes on the clin­ic

Andrew Radin was a straight A student. So when he stopped turning in assignments in Nigam Shah’s class at Stanford University, the professor knew something was up.

“If you don’t hand in assignments, you’re gonna fail,” Radin recalls Shah saying one day after class. “Everything alright at home?”

Little did Shah know that a project Radin did for another class had piqued the interest of Andreessen Horowitz’s Vijay Pande, who also taught at the university. As a biomedical informatics student, Radin was looking at how technology could be used to comb through large swaths of data and find drug-target matches — and Pande offered him the first investment from his new $200 million biotech fund to turn the platform into a company.

Fu­eled with a fresh half-bil­lion dol­lars as AI in­vest­ments boom, Ex­sci­en­tia is hit­ting the gas on drug de­vel­op­ment

Can AI revolutionize the way new drugs are found and developed? For Exscientia, that’s now the half-billion-dollar question.

It hasn’t been two months since Exscientia expanded its Series C round, but the decade-old machine learning outfit is already back at the venture well, this time pulling in up to $525 million for its AI platform and pipeline.

The raise includes a $252 Series D round, plus a $300 million equity investment by SoftBank that can be drawn at the company’s discretion. The SoftBank Vision Fund 2 led the Series D, with a hand from Novo Holdings, BlackRock, Mubadala Investment, Farallon Capital, Casdin Capital, GT Healthcare Capital, Marshall Wace, Pivotal bioVenture Partners, Laurion Capital, Hongkou and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO (Exscientia)

Lay­ing claim to an­oth­er AI 'first,' Ex­sci­en­tia tees up an I/O drug for the clin­ic

In January 2020, Exscientia announced that a drug molecule to treat OCD invented by AI was set to enter clinical trials for the first time. A little over a year later, its AI-designed molecule for immuno-oncology will do the same.

The A2a receptor antagonist was co-developed with Evotec and has the potential to prevent adenosine from binding to T-cell receptors, promoting anti-tumor T-cell activity. Exscientia CEO Andrew Hopkins said in a statement that the molecule was discovered within 8 months from project initiation.

With fresh in­vestor cash in hand, Volas­tra part­ners with Mi­crosoft to de­vel­op metasta­t­ic can­cer bio­mark­er plat­form

Despite a suite of innovations in oncologic therapy, metastatic cancer remains one of the leading killers of US patients, and the underlying drivers of its growth are still little known. A West Harlem biotech is looking at one potential path to solving metastasis, and now it’s working with a high-profile partner to speed its efforts.

Volastra has closed an expanded $44 million Series A and iced a deal with Microsoft to develop new digital tools to identify biomarkers for cancer metastasis based on the company’s work studying chromosomal instability, the biotech said in a pair of releases Tuesday.

CEO Virginia Burger (New Equilibrium Biosciences)

Bet­ting ear­ly on an AI niche, RA Cap­i­tal seeds a young founder's quest to un­lock 'Holy Grail' tar­gets

Artificial intelligence, with its grandiose claims and sweeping promises to revolutionize drug discovery, may seem omnipresent in biopharma now. But Virginia Burger and RA Capital believe there are niches it has yet to touch.

After taking up residency at the star-studded Boston accelerator Petri, Burger’s startup — named New Equilibrium Biosciences — has scored $10 million in seed cash from the VC firm to prove that by reaching into those corners, they could uncover drugs against “Holy Grail” targets in everything from cancer to neurodegenerative diseases.

Jen Nwankwo, 1910 Genetics CEO

Ex­clu­sive: Mi­crosoft, Sam Alt­man back a new AI biotech up­start

Most artificial intelligence biotechs start with a computer scientist or two and an algorithm. Jen Nwankwo started from the other side of the spectrum.

She had just gotten her PhD from Tufts in 2016, a dyed-in-the-wool pharmacologist who had received an HHMI fellowship and worked on sickle cell drug discovery at Boston Children’s Hospital, and was working at Bain Capital when she started reading up on artificial intelligence. She’d pour over every news article she saw on self-driving cars or image recognition, wondering with each word how she could apply the same technology to the problems that plagued her as a drug developer.

Daphne Koller (Photo By Cody Glenn/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Daphne Koller lines up $400M for a glob­al shop­ping spree to vault for­ward on AI drug dis­cov­ery

Daphne Koller is ready to do some shopping.

The former Stanford professor got her first taste last October when she welcomed the team at Haystack Sciences and their DNA-encoded library into insitro, the star machine learning startup she’s been building from scratch since early 2018. And she’s hauled in a hefty $400 million Series C to pick up more — all to “accelerate our growth in an inorganic way.”

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