Follow the Money: AI-Powered Drug Discovery, Remote Access Labs

July 1, 2021

July 1, 2021 | Insilico Medicine closes a Series C for AI-powered drug discovery, while other investments fuel remote access labs, natural products, high throughput screening, and more.

$550M: VC Fund for Therapeutics for Unmet Needs

venBio has announced the closing of venBio Global Strategic Fund IV, LP (“venBio Fund IV”), its fourth life sciences venture capital fund, exceeding its target and closing on approximately $550 million in capital commitments in an oversubscribed fundraise. The capital was raised from existing and new investors, including a broad range of institutional investors comprising corporate pensions, financial institutions, university endowments and foundations, family offices and funds-of-funds. Led by Managing Partners Corey Goodman, Ph.D., Robert Adelman, M.D., Aaron Royston, M.D., and Richard Gaster, M.D., Ph.D., venBio Fund IV will continue to invest primarily in therapeutics companies that are developing biopharmaceuticals for unmet medical needs. The venBio team takes an active role with each of their portfolio companies, providing strategic guidance on a range of business activities including intellectual property, chemistry, manufacturing and controls (CMC), as well as assisting with clinical trials: from trial design to endpoints to regulatory deliberations.


$225M: Series C for AI-Powered Drug Discovery

Insilico Medicine, a global leader in end-to-end artificial intelligence for target discovery, small molecule chemistry, and clinical development, announced that it has closed a $255 million Series C financing led by Warburg Pincus. The financing was also participated by current investors including Qiming Venture Partners, Pavilion Capital, Eight Roads Ventures, Lilly Asia Ventures, Sinovation Ventures, BOLD Capital Partners, Formic Ventures, Baidu Ventures, and new investors including CPE, OrbiMed, Mirae Asset Capital, B Capital Group, Deerfield Management, Maison Capital, Lake Bleu Capital, President International Development Corporation, Sequoia Capital China and Sage Partners. Proceeds from the financing will be used to progress Insilico Medicine’s current therapeutic programs into human clinical trials, initiate multiple new programs for novel and difficult targets, and further develop its AI and drug discovery capabilities.


$107.5M: Series B for IL-2 Agonist

Synthekine has closed an oversubscribed $107.5 million Series B financing. The round was co-led by Deerfield Management and Janus Henderson Investors, with participation from RA Capital Management, Rock Springs Capital, Omega Funds, TCG X, Lilly Asia Ventures, and an undisclosed leading healthcare investor. Existing investors The Column Group, Samsara BioCapital, Canaan Partners, and Emerson Collective also participated in the round. Synthekine’s therapeutic pipeline is led by its selective IL-2 partial agonist, STK-012, and its orthogonal IL-2 and CD-19 CAR-T system, STK-009 and SYNCAR-001. Synthekine expects to move both programs into clinical investigation within the next year, with proceeds from the financing supporting clinical proof-of-concept data.


$56.1M: Series B for Remote Access Laboratories

Strateos, Inc. has closed its $56.1 million Series B financing led by DCVC and Lux Capital with participation from new investors including Eli Lilly and Company, Ally Bridge Group, Black Diamond Ventures, Mack & Co., LLC, and Castor Ventures. With this financing, Strateos will continue to drive innovations on its SmartLab Platform, which integrates data generation and AI-enablement with its unique and flexible automation to accelerate pharmaceutical and synthetic biology R&D. Strateos leverages the resources of the company’s two SmartLab Studios in Menlo Park and San Diego, California, which together represent more than 14,000 square feet of laboratory space and 200-plus state-of-the-art research instruments tailored to the application needs of small-molecule and biologics drug discovery, cell and gene therapies and synthetic biology. These remote-controlled, secure labs are accessed through sophisticated command-and-control tools that enable scientists to design, manage, and collaborate on scientific workflows that deliver high-quality data that can be readily analyzed and shared. Strateos’ life sciences customers are also leveraging the Command & Control software to improve their internal operations and laboratory facilities locally, and worldwide.


$51M: Series A for Natural Small Molecule Therapeutics

Enveda Biosciences has announced an oversubscribed $51M Series A funding round. The financing was led by Lux Capital, with participation from Two Sigma Ventures, Hummingbird VC, Catalio Capital, Lifeforce Capital, and Matthew De Silva of Notable Labs along with existing investors True Ventures, Wireframe Ventures, Village Global, and Chris Gibson of Recursion. Enveda is systematically exploring the natural world to unlock its potential for new medicines with the first high resolution chemical map of the natural world. This new investment will further power Enveda’s data-driven approach to screening, validating, and developing high-potential natural compounds into first-in-class clinical candidates.


$47M: Antibody Drug Conjugates

Iksuda Therapeutics, the developer of a new generation of antibody drug conjugates (ADCs) with raised therapeutic index, has completed a $47 million (circa GB £34 million) financing round, co-led by Mirae Asset Capital and its subsidiaries, Celltrion and Premier Partners. The funding will support the advancement of Iksuda’s lead ADC assets and expansion of its payload and conjugation platform technologies. Iksuda’s lead pre-clinical candidate, IKS03, is a best-in-class CD19-targeted ADC candidate for B-cell cancers. The investment will enable progression of IKS03 to first-in-human phase 1 clinical trials. It will also be used to accelerate the Company’s earlier-stage programs including IKS04 and IKS012 to IND filing.


$15M: Series A for Smart Digital Clinical Trial Protocols

Faro Health Inc, a cloud-computing company that simplifies the design and authoring of complex clinical studies for biopharma and medical device customers, announced a $15 million investment led by Section 32 with participation from Northpond Ventures, Polaris Partners and Zetta Ventures. The Faro platform is the first Integrated Clinical Development Environment that simplifies the design and authoring of complex clinical studies by harnessing the power of smart digital protocols. The platform provides in-context and intuitive insights during the authoring process to help Faro customers optimize clinical study designs. Faro customers can use deep automation to eliminate inconsistencies and errors through standardization of protocol content that automatically links and propagates to all applicable study documents.


$4M: AI-Powered Clinical Research Platform

BEKHealth has announced $4 million in funding to accelerate the adoption of the company’s clinical research software platform. BEKHealth’s AI-powered platform accelerates and improves clinical research processes by combining electronic medical record (EMR) data processing, feasibility and site selection, precision patient trial matching, and care coordination. Excelerate Health Ventures, a leading digital health-focused early-stage venture capital firm, led the financing round with participation from syndicate partners Boston Millennia Partners, Connecticut Innovations and Martin Ventures. Change Healthcare also joined the round as a strategic commercial partner. The funding will enable BEKHealth to continue to grow its team and respond to increasing demand from healthcare and clinical research organizations. Fueled by cutting-edge machine learning, BEKHealth’s AI models combine more than 400 unique medical libraries and 70,000 research protocols with an interoperable clinical data model to power a highly accurate and intuitive clinical research software platform.


$2.2M: Metabolomics-Based HTS Platform

Sinopia Biosciences has been awarded a grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), as part of the National Institutes of Health, to further develop and validate their proprietary metabolomics-based high-throughput screening (HTS) platform with an initial focus on rare diseases. To date, Sinopia has received nearly $8.0 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and a $450,000 grant from the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). The $2.2 million grant will support the screening and validation of both chemical and genetic perturbations across multiple cell lines with an initial focus on 50 genetically defined rare diseases – of which there are an estimated 7,000 in the world. In partnership with Omix Technologies, a leader in mass spectrometry-based data generation, Sinopia will use metabolomics data to augment its multi-omics drug discovery engine LEADS (LEarn And DiScover) to develop hypotheses for treating select rare diseases and subsequently validating identified compounds.


$1.8M: Norwegian Grant for Microbiome-Based Diagnostics

Mdx specialist, Genetic Analysis AS (GA) has announced that the Norwegian Research Council has approved GA’s grant application of NOK 16 million for its project developing new innovative microbiome-based diagnostics to be used to aid selection and treatment of IBD patients. In this project, GA will develop an easy to use, in vitro diagnostic test that profiles gut microbiota to predict disease progression and treatment regimes in patients with ulcerative colitis. The development and validation of the test will be done in close collaboration with R&D partners at Akershus University Hospital (Prof Stefan Brackman), Norway and Sahlgrenska University (Prof Lena Öhman) Hospital/University of Gothenburg, Sweden.


$250K: Sensitive Data Management

Sentiero Ventures, a $10 million, Dallas-based venture capital fund, has made a $250,000 investment Data Sentinel, the leader in sensitive data management innovation. Data Sentinel is a data trust and compliance platform that helps businesses persistently manage their data privacy compliance, governance, and quality in real time. Data Sentinel’s proprietary deep learning discovery technology illuminates the true nature of an organizations data across all sources and systems, monitoring and measuring the data to ensure compliance with company policies and evolving regulations. Led by industry veterans with extensive real-world experience, Data Sentinel has been built to help businesses produce trusted, correct, compliant, and well governed data. Data Sentinel will use proceeds from the funding to accelerate its rapid growth in the data privacy and sensitive data management software market. To expand its customer base and product offering, the company is already accelerating its product roadmap and is making considerable new investments in its technology development, customer success, and sales and marketing teams.


SPAC for Prescription Digital Therapeutics

Pear Therapeutics and Thimble Point Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) whose management team is associated with the Pritzker Vlock Family Office, have entered into a definitive business combination agreement. Upon closing, the combined company will be named Pear Holdings Corp. and will be led by Pear’s current management team. The Combined Company’s common stock is expected to be listed on Nasdaq under the new ticker symbol “PEAR.” Pear, founded in 2013, is led by a management team that intends to leverage its biopharmaceutical, medtech, and technology expertise to create transformational products for patients and scale the delivery of them to global markets. Pear’s prescription digital therapeutics (PDT) engine enables the discovery, development and commercialization of PDTs at scale. Pear has developed and commercialized the first three FDA-authorized PDTs, has 14 product candidates, and is scaling its platform for third-party product distribution opportunities. The Company’s three FDA-authorized products, reSET, reSET-O and Somryst, address large market opportunities with more than 20 million patients suffering from substance and opioid use disorders and more than 30 million from chronic insomnia, in the U.S. alone, respectively.