Cryo-EM focused biotech from longtime NIH veteran secures $40M backing from Bayer in Series A
“It’s always nice to get money in the bank.”
That’s what Gandeeva Therapeutics’ founder and CEO Sriram Subramaniam said after revealing that his company landed $40 million in Series A funding. Gandeeva will use the money for its artificial intelligence-enabled platform to identify small molecules and biologics at a faster pace.
The company is on a mission to show that it can leverage cryo-EM and AI to make a meaningful impact on drug discovery, and it plans to do so with speed, using AI for experiment prediction.
Lux Capital and Leaps by Bayer led the round, with Obvious Ventures, Amgen Ventures, Amplitude Ventures and Air Street Capital also participating.
It’s a journey that started more than 20 years ago for Subramaniam, who spent 15 years as an investigator for the National Institute of Health’s intramural research program before branching out on his own.
“Walking into cells and tissues was science fiction at that time,” he said in a call with Endpoints News Friday,
Over time, though, new tools emerged, most notably cryo-EM, a method by which scientists can image proteins and other biological entities by freezing them and assaulting them with electrons.
“It was clear to me that this approach would be a turning point for structural biology, and it has been,” he said. “There’s no doubt that it’s been revolutionary. “
Speed is the foundation upon which the platform is built, and fortunate timing is what has shaped the company’s work so far. Subramaniam said that his academic lab was only permitted to continue its worth through the start of the Covid-19 pandemic if they offered to work on solutions for the virus. Most recently, the company published a paper about the structural analysis of the Omicron variant in Science.
“I had never worked on coronaviruses before, but overnight, we switched to working on coronaviruses and pretty much have looked at the structures of every variant, and pretty much every mutant,” he said. “From the beginning, I knew that’s where it would be headed, that there would be mutations.”
In a statement, Jürgen Eckhardt, head of Leaps by Bayer, said:
We believe Gandeeva’s platform will allow us to combine prediction and experimentation to visualize and optimize drug design at atomic scale and with unprecedented speed. Gandeeva’s relentless focus on using their powerful imaging technologies to cast a spotlight on the importance of protein conformation in drug design is aligned with our ambition to use novel data-driven methods to bring precision medicines and breakthrough cures to patients.
This is the second time Leaps has led a financing round for a startup in just three weeks, as it led the $80 million Series A for Cellino, a Boston-based biotech focused on cell therapy manufacturing. Subramaniam said that having the balance of investors, from the tech-focused minds of Lux Capital to the innovation-minded Leaps is a “dream come true.”
“We sit at this really interesting interface, so to have an investment syndicate that reflects the vision and mission of the company, that’s very special to me,” he said.