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Recursion raises $121m for AI-led drug discovery

Funds will fuel in house pipeline and tech

Recursion

Recursion, which uses automated, experimental biology with artificial intelligence to discover and develop drugs, has raised $121 million in a Series C financing.

Based in Salt Lake City, the company is part of a wave of new drug discovery start-ups combining biology and bioinformatics with artificial intelligence and computing to rapidly identify promising drug candidates.

Like many AI-based drug discovery companies, Recursion began uses its technology in drug repurposing by scanning existing molecules, but has expanded into discovery of novel compounds for rare diseases and beyond.

The new funding round was led by Baillie Gifford’s flagship investment trust, Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust, with participation by new institutional investors Intermountain Ventures, Regents of the University of Minnesota, Texas Tech University System, and select angel investors, plus a host of existing investors.

The funds will support Recursion’s machine learning-enabled drug discovery platform alongside new capabilities designed to accelerate new chemical entity chemistry and predict safety pharmacology.

The company has two candidates in early clinical trials, one for cerebral cavernous malformation and another for neurofibromatosis type 2, with a pipeline of further pre-clinical and clinical assets.

Recursion says it plans to prioritise rare disease candidates in its pipeline, but will also look to sign deals with other companies across therapeutic areas, including immuno-oncology, oncology, ageing, and inflammation.

The company’s CEO Chris Gibson says the firm has already achieved a lot in the two years since it closed its Series B round, including putting two drugs discovered from its own platform into clinical trials, signing licensing deals with Takeda, expanding its R&D reach and opening its new headquarters.

Added Gibson: ”With these new resources, we will continue to drive toward a future in which drugs are developed - by people - with a new level of understanding about human biology that was simply not possible before machines.”

The company has big ambitions, and says its ultimate goal is to build a robust and reliable map of human cellular biology, which its says would enable a radical shift in the pace and scale at which new treatments could benefit patients.

Numerous other companies are pioneering AI-led drug discovery, including Berg, BenevolentAI, Insilico Medicine and Exscientia. In March, Celgene signed a deal with UK-based Exscientia in oncology drug discovery.

Most big pharma companies are investing in computing and AI to address the long-standing inefficiencies in drug discovery and development, where currently just 10% of drug candidates make it from phase 1 to marketing approval.

Article by
Andrew McConaghie

16th July 2019

From: Research

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