Insilico finds a new partner for AI drug discovery; EU launches Illumina probe after Grail merger close
Hot off a $255 million megaround, Chinese AI startup Insilico Medicine has found its latest partner.
Insilico is joining hands with Shanghai-based BioNova Pharmaceuticals to jointly develop small molecule inhibitors for hematologic malignancies. Though they’re not releasing the financial terms of the deal, the partners said they’re kicking things off with a discovery-stage project from BioNova.
While there’s been a recent explosion of activity in the AI space, Insilico CEO Alex Zhavoronkov predicts that some of those efforts will ultimately fail, akin to the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s. Once that happens, he told Endpoints News, Insilico will seek to emerge as the field’s Amazon or Google. The chief executive pulled in a $255 million Series C round back in June.
But he’s not alone in those goals: Miles away, in Shenzhen, China, XtalPi recently raked in a $400 million Series D round to refine AI for drug discovery. Exscientia pulled in a fresh half-billion dollars earlier this year, just a month after Daphne Koller picked up $400 million in a Series C round. — Nicole DeFeudis
EU launches new Illumina probe after Grail merger close
Europe is not happy with Illumina.
A day after the biotech completed its acquisition of Grail despite ongoing FTC and EU probes, the European Commission is launching a new investigation over whether or not Illumina’s move violated a “standstill obligation,” the Commission announced Friday. Such obligations are enforced to “potentially irreparable negative impact of transactions on the market,” pending investigation outcomes, the EC said.
“We deeply regret Illumina’s decision to complete its acquisition of GRAIL, while our investigation into the transaction is still ongoing,” Commission executive vice president Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.
Companies have to respect our competition rules and procedures. Under our ex-ante merger control regime companies must wait for our approval before a transaction can go ahead. This obligation, that we call standstill obligation, is at the heart of our merger control system and we take its possible breaches very seriously. This is why we have decided to immediately start an investigation to assess whether Illumina’s decision constitutes a breach of this important obligation.
The EU opened its investigation into the merger at the end of July, expressing concern that the deal would stifle competition for cancer detection tests, which is Grail’s primary business. Illumina has asserted that the EU has no authority over the merger because the companies do not do business with EU member states. — Max Gelman
Massive York, England life sciences campus gets a new owner
Life sciences companies at an 82-acre York, England campus are about to get a new landlord.
LXi Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) is snapping up the campus in one of three deals totaling £80m, according to the UK-based news source The Business Desk.
About 1,000 people work at the campus, which is home to CRO Covance and UK government agencies like the Animal and Plant Health Agency.
“Occupational demand for the campus is significant, including from Government entities, and there is expansion space at the property which may provide opportunities for the company to further enhance the value of the asset through the pre-let forward funding of additional buildings,” LXi REIT said in a statement, per The Business Desk. — Nicole DeFeudis