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Robin Li, Baidu CEO, at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) in Shanghai, July 9, 2020 (Zhai Huiyong, Imaginechina via AP Images)

As Chi­na's tech gi­ants catch on­to biotech, Baidu plots $2B start­up fo­cused on di­ag­no­sis, AI drug dis­cov­ery

When China’s biggest search engine builder forays into biotech, expect it to move in large strides.

Baidu is reportedly scouting around for investors to collectively put $2 billion behind a biotech startup that would leverage its artificial intelligence technologies in disease diagnosis and drug discovery — following in the footsteps of American tech giants while joining its Chinese counterparts in making healthcare investments.

Elad Kedar, Orasis CEO (Orasis)

Ora­sis Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals snags $30M to see its pres­by­opia treat­ment through to PhI­II

Orasis Pharmaceuticals is one of several biotechs developing miotic-based eye drops as a potential alternative to reading glasses — one drop, and no more squinting at text messages. With the help of a $30 million Series C, the Israel-based company has its sights set on Phase III.

“Reading glasses are inconvenient, they are not aesthetically pleasing for many people, and then finally, they are also one of the very first signs of aging,” said CEO Elad Kedar, who joined Orasis in 2015 shortly after the company was founded.

Nessan Bermingham (file photo)

An­i­mal da­ta in hand, Nes­san Berming­ham banks $91.5M for At­las-backed RNA edit­ing play

Korro Bio, the RNA editing startup that got started on $4 million in seed funding from Atlas and some more cash from New Enterprise Associates, has brought in $91.5 million for its Series A haul.

Under executive chairman Nessan Bermingham, the biotech has racked up animal data that he said show “pretty high targeted editing straight out of the gate.” Off-target activity wasn’t an issue, and the OPERA platform appeared able to zero in on multiple types of RNA.

Robert Habib (Credit: Imperial College London)

Mi­NA Ther­a­peu­tics bags near­ly $30M Se­ries A to push ac­ti­vat­ing mR­NA tech through the clin­ic

Seven years after leaving investment banking to take the helm at MiNA Therapeutics, CEO Robert Habib is on a mission to develop a “new class of medicines” using small activating mRNA technology. And on Thursday, the London-based biotech announced it landed a modest £23 million (nearly $30 million) Series A to work with.

Habib’s father, the prominent Imperial College London professor Nagy Habib, co-founded MiNA in 2008. The company’s lead mRNA program is designed to “switch genes on,” and potentially help treat what the CEO called “the undruggable”: difficult-to-treat diseases, starting with liver cancer.

Chris Gibson, Recursion CEO (Vaughn Ridley/Sportsfile for Web Summit via Getty Images)

Re­cur­sion nabs $239M and an up to $1B part­ner­ship with Bay­er as AI race heats up

Some biotechs struggle for cash. Recursion, lately, seems to be swimming in it.

Today, having already raised over $180 million in the last two years, the Salt Lake City-based AI drug developer announced a $239 million Series D. That’s more than any US or European biotech has raised in a round this year and more than all but two biotechs raised last year. (Mabwell, a Shanghai-based antibody developer, raised $278 million in a Series A in April.)

François Ravenelle, Inversago CEO

Up­start sets off on a clin­i­cal jour­ney, look­ing to make a name for its 2nd-gen CB1 block­ers

A small Montreal-based biotech out to make a name for itself as a second-gen developer of CB1 receptor blockers has successfully gathered $35 million for the next stage of the development odyssey it’s on.

The money, which comes from a high-profile group of transatlantic investors, will be used to pay for the first clinical forays of Inversago’s lead drug. And the biotech has a long list of high-profile targets in mind, starting with Prader-Willi syndrome and running through NASH, type 1 diabetes and diabetic nephropathy.

Zaiqi Wang, InxMed CEO

Chi­na biotech In­xMed bags $19M Se­ries A+ to de­vel­op PhI FAK in­hibitor

Nearly a year after Nanjing, China-based InxMed bagged its first-ever IND approval, the company has raked in ¥130 million (about $19 million) in a Series A+ to develop its focal adhesion kinase (FAK) small molecule inhibitor program.

The financing round — led by Ennovation Ventures and China Growth Capital and joined by InnoMed Capital and Grand Yangtze Capital — will allow the company to push its lead drug, IN10018, through the clinic for multiple cancer indications. The company said it previously raised “tens of millions” in US dollars in Series A financing.

Robert Doebele and Avanish Vellanki (Rain)

New tar­get­ed ther­a­py ap­proach­es win Rain Ther­a­peu­tics $63M — de­signed to beat a quick path to ap­proval

Rain Therapeutics is on a tear.

When the biotech got started in the San Francisco Bay Area, it was singularly focused on tarloxotinib, a small molecule inhibitor named for its design to target low oxygen levels in the tumor and thereby sparing healthy tissues. More than two years later, Rain has tripled its pipeline within days, first licensing a research program from Drexel University, then more recently nabbing a Phase II-ready drug from Daiichi Sankyo.

Jim Roberts and Brian Finrow (Lumen Bioscience)

Lu­men Bio­science reels in $16M Se­ries B to 'de­moc­ra­tize' bi­o­log­ics

It all started with spirulina — a nutrient-packed superfood popular on the West Coast.

The photosynthetic microalgae has been commercially farmed since the 1970s. But Lumen Bioscience co-founders Brian Finrow and Jim Roberts aren’t looking to supplement their diets. They believe spirulina can be engineered to deliver therapeutic proteins and treat diseases like traveler’s diarrhea, norovirus and C. difficile colitis. And Lumen just reeled in a $16 million Series B to prove it.

Ned Sharpless, NCI director (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

Can­cer Re­search UK and NCI to kick off next rounds of Grand Chal­lenges

Over the last five years, Cancer Research UK has splashed £130 million ($172.6 million) into global oncology research through its Grand Challenge initiative. And there’s more where that came from.

The charity organization is joining forces with the US National Cancer Institute for three additional rounds. Research teams vying for a cut of the funding will take a shot at “challenge questions,” which will be posted in October. From there, a portion of applicants will receive pilot funds to finalize their proposals, and the best teams will be awarded $25 million for cancer studies over the next five years.