Startups channel feed

Ali Madani, Profluent founder and CEO

Proflu­ent de­buts to de­sign pro­teins with ma­chine learn­ing in bid to move past 'AI sprin­kled on top'

While OpenAI’s Microsoft-allied ChatGPT takes the world by storm, a fledgling startup in Berkeley, CA is debuting to take a similar language-learning model approach, but with the goal of designing new proteins.

Profluent, founded by a former Salesforce AI research leader, has secured $9 million to kick-start its work, with proceeds going toward building out an integrated wet lab and recruiting machine learning scientists and biologists. Insight Partners led the seed round. The investor base also includes Air Street Capital, AIX Ventures and Phoenix Venture Partners.

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In­vestor 'misalign­men­t' leads to tR­NA biotech's shut­ter­ing

A small biotech looking to carve a lane in the tRNA field has folded, an investor and a co-founder confirmed to Endpoints News.

Similar to Flagship’s Alltrna and other upstarts like Takeda-backed hC Bioscience, the now-shuttered Theonys was attempting to go after transfer RNA, seen as a potential Swiss Army knife in the broader RNA therapeutics space. The idea is that one tRNA drug could be used across a galaxy of disorders and diseases.

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Peter Joyce, Grey Wolf Therapeutics co-founder and CEO

Grey Wolf reels in $49M to en­ter the clin­ic for new im­munother­a­py tar­get

When he finds the time to go fly fishing, Peter Joyce says gray wulffs, or mayfly mimics, are his good luck charm — he always catches a fish when he uses them. Joyce has now brought in $49 million in a Series B round for his biotech company Grey Wolf Therapeutics.

The Oxford, UK cancer biotech plans to use the funds to bring its first asset into human trials in the coming month or two, according to Joyce. Pfizer Ventures and Earlybird Venture Capital co-led the round, which the startup disclosed Thursday.

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Elon Musk (GDA via AP Images)

Neu­ralink em­ploy­ees cite lay­offs at Elon Musk’s brain-com­put­er in­ter­face start­up

At least two Neuralink employees have posted to LinkedIn in recent days saying they’ve been laid off from Elon Musk’s brain-computer interface startup, which has received backlash for animal testing.

A former staffer working on preclinical study design and an ex-lab director working on assessing the safety of Neuralink’s implanted devices (prior to human testing) announced recently they’d been laid off, specifically using that terminology. Both had worked at the startup for at least two years.

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Raphael Townshend, Atomic AI founder and CEO

For­mer Deep­Mind in­tern launch­es Atom­ic AI to 'parse' RNA struc­ture for new small mol­e­cules

Another artificial intelligence startup has entered the drug discovery field, this time on a mission to fuel new RNA small molecules.

Atomic AI revealed a $35 million Series A Wednesday morning to boost its computational and wet lab work. The 14-employee startup will use the proceeds to continue building out its so-called PARSE platform, which is focused on predicting the 3D structure of RNA.

“There are a number of RNA transcripts of interest that we want to drug with small molecules, specifically, and a major issue across the field is that it is hard to get selective functional small molecule binders to those transcripts,” CEO and founder Raphael Townshend told Endpoints News in a preview. “And oftentimes, the mechanism of action is decreasing the amount of protein being expressed.”

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From L-R: Zavain Dar, Adam Goulburn and Nan Li (Dimension)

‘Silo­ing is just so out­dat­ed’: New $350M VC fund aims to dig­i­tize life sci­ences

As technology increasingly helps find drug targets, enhance the diagnosis of diseases, speed up the testing of new therapeutics and essentially angle its way into every corner of life sciences, entrepreneurs will need a new type of VC firm.

At least, that’s the thinking behind the latest fund to drop. Dimension, out of New York and San Francisco, launched Wednesday with $350 million to bankroll a couple dozen startups, some of which it will help form. The portfolio already includes Kaleidoscope, maker of a tool to help teams keep tabs on R&D, and Enveda Biosciences, which is nearing the clinic.

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Jon Congleton, Mineralys Therapeutics CEO

Af­ter hy­per­ten­sion com­peti­tor gets bought, Min­eralys lines up IPO plans

Mineralys Therapeutics has penciled in a $100 million initial public offering to take its investigational hypertension drug into Phase III testing.

The Philadelphia startup released topline results for its hypertension drug, dubbed MLS-101 or lorundrostat, two months ago, saying it met the primary endpoint of reducing systolic blood pressure for patients who were on at least two background medicines.

Kleanthis Xanthopoulos, Shoreline Biosciences CEO

Off Ed­i­tas’ shelves, iNK cell ther­a­pies float to Shore­line

Editas Medicine is offloading its iNK cell franchise and licensing out some gene editing tech to a private biotech that counts BeiGene and Gilead’s Kite as friends.

Shoreline Biosciences is buying EDIT-202 and another undisclosed iNK program as part of the deal. MiNK Therapeutics had also been vying for the preclinical solid tumor cell therapy, Endpoints News reported last fall.

The San Diego biotech also obtains certain manufacturing tech, an exclusive license to Editas’ so-called SLEEK gene editing knock-in tech and a non-exclusive license to the Boston-area biotech’s engineered AsCas12a enzyme.

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Am­gen ex­tends au­toim­mune pact with small Michi­gan biotech

Amgen is going all in on a three-indication collaboration with an Ann Arbor, MI biotech.

The California pharma has elected to move forward with all three autoimmune programs in its $240 million pact with EVOQ Therapeutics, the companies said Wednesday. EVOQ received an undisclosed milestone payment.

The duo initially teamed up in January 2021. Since then, the startup from the University of Michigan and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has also allied with the nonprofit JDRF on type 1 diabetes and, in recent weeks, with Gilead for rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Former US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (Olivier Douliery/Abaca/Sipa via AP Images)

Ex-US Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wilbur Ross pairs his SPAC with Alzheimer's biotech

Waiting until the very last minute, former US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ special purpose acquisition company has found a business to buy: a biotech allied with Biogen on diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease.

Coming together are Cambridge, MA biotech Aprinoia Therapeutics and ROSS Acquisition Corp. II, with about $280 million of ROSS stock going toward the diagnostics and drug developer. Ross will give $7.5 million of his own money through a convertible note and up to $12.5 million at the time of closing, which is expected in the first half of this year, the companies said Wednesday.

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