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Xiling Shen (Xilis)

A Mubadala-backed biotech is us­ing pa­tient tu­mor tis­sue grown in a petri dish to change pre­ci­sion on­col­o­gy

As Duke professor Xiling Shen tells it, the idea for his new biotech Xilis dates all the way back to 2009. Shen taught at Cornell at the time, researching circuit design in the university’s bioengineering department, when he came across a paper from Dutch biologist Hans Clevers about a technology called “organoids,” or tissue cultures made up of “3D gel.”

Shen tells Endpoints News he saw the therapeutic potential here, allowing scientists to test drugs on real patient tissue in petri dishes in what would be a first, but also wondered about the limitations of such technology. Could this process be accomplished quickly and cheaply? And how challenging would it be to scale up the tech to the point where it could be widely used?

Viswa Colluru, Enveda Biosciences

A Re­cur­sion vet­er­an is map­ping plant life to chart a course to new ther­a­pies — and in­vestors like what they see

One of the earliest employees at AI biotech Recursion Pharmaceuticals is leading a new company, and he’s just closed a hefty Series A to get things moving.

Enveda Biosciences pulled in $51 million in the raise, the company announced Tuesday morning, with the goal of pushing some of its preclinical programs further along. Led by CEO Viswa Colluru, Enveda aims to research how machine learning can utilize natural biology to create new therapies for Wilson’s Disease, NASH and Parkinson’s disease, among others.

Alex Zhavoronkov, Insilico CEO

With a new $255M megaround in hand, Alex Zha­voronkov has big plans for In­sil­i­co. Are they fea­si­ble?

If you take Alex Zhavoronkov at his word, it won’t be long until he rules over biotech’s AI drug discovery arena from atop his perch as Insilico CEO.

On the heels of a megaround announced Tuesday morning, the media-savvy exec outlined a vision of the not-so-distant future where AI-focused companies crash and burn akin to the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s. Zhavoronkov likened the current environment to 1998, when there was a glut of biotechs that soaked up capital but proved unable to deliver on their promises, he opined to Endpoints News.

Andrew Hopkins, Exscientia CEO

Ex­sci­en­tia spends Soft­Bank's cash in bid to edge out AI ri­vals

Exscientia is sprinting to win the great AI biotech race.

The UK company, having long labored on small discovery deals with large pharmas, raised up to $525 million in a Series D led by the infamous Japanese conglomerate SoftBank in April and followed it up less than a month later with a Bristol Myers Squibb deal that paid $50 million cash and $1.2 billion in milestones.

Now, the Oxford spinout is splurging on a shiny new tool. On Monday they announced they purchased the three-year-old molecule-screening biotech Allcyte, a longtime collaborator, for $60.6 million in cash and stock.

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Valo CEO David Berry (Flagship Pioneering)

Flag­ship and Khosla Ven­tures team up for biotech's lat­est SPAC, with Va­lo Health win­ning a blank check tick­et to Nas­daq

Editor’s note: Interested in following biopharma’s fast-paced IPO market? You can bookmark our IPO Tracker here.

The latest biotech SPAC deal has landed, and it’s coming from two prominent industry figures.

Flagship’s AI-focused Valo Health will reverse merge with the first of Vinod Khosla’s three blank check companies, the duo announced Wednesday morning, giving Valo access to the $333 million held in the SPAC as well as a $168.5 million PIPE financing. The merger will create a company valued at roughly $2.8 billion, Valo said, and is expected to close before September.

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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.