2020-12-06| FundingR&D

Genesis Bags $52M Series A to Employ AI for Drug Discovery and Development

by Judy Ya-Hsuan Lin
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On December 2nd, California-based Genesis Therapeutics, a company that intends to develop medicines for patients with severe and unmet medical needs through AI technology, announced a $52 million Series A financing round. The funding will be utilized to augment innovation in AI technologies, fortify innovative therapeutics pipeline, and expand its world-class team of drug hunters, software engineers, and AI researchers.

The funding round was led by Rock Springs Capital along with several other investors, including T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Seed-round lead investor Andreessen Horowitz, Menlo Ventures, and Radical Ventures, whose founders co-founded the world-leading Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

Many of the investors’ executives or authorities have assumed several crucial roles in Genesis. Kris Jenner, M.D., D.Phil., Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Rock Springs joined as a member of Genesis’ Board of Directors. Dr. Vijay Pande, the lead of Genesis’ seed round at Andreessen Horowitz, and Greg Yap of Menlo Ventures joined as Board observers. More participation in the Series A round included Felicis Ventures (also invested in the seed round), Jazz Venture Partners, Harpoon Ventures, Ulu Ventures, Mark Leslie (former CEO of Veritas Software), Jeffrey Rothschild (co-founder of Veritas Software, early employee, VP of Infrastructure Engineering at Facebook), Propagator Ventures, and Open Field Capital.

“With its unique technology and team, Genesis is among the most exciting new companies in the field of innovating and applying artificial intelligence to accelerate the development of new therapies,” said Dr. Jenner. “In our diligence process, we were impressed not only by the rigor of their platform and the extensive AI and drug development accomplishments of their team but also by the nascent yet powerful applications of their platform to laboratory experiments for their drug discovery pipeline. We are united in our view that drug discovery and development must raise its success rate. AI is an emerging category of technologies that – especially in the hands of skilled practitioners – offers the potential to do so.”

“Artificial intelligence holds immense promise to catalyze the development of the next generation of highly selective, orally bioavailable molecules, with reduced side effects, for the most impactful drug targets,” said Evan N. Feinberg, Ph.D., Genesis’ CEO, and Co-Founder. “We are very encouraged by the confidence expressed by this very strong combination of investors, spanning both biotech and tech, cross-over, and venture capital.”


Experienced Leadership

Dr. Feinberg co-authored and co-invented key deep learning technologies and peer-reviewed papers published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and ACS Central Science as a graduate student at Stanford University in Pande Lab. Since its launch in early 2019, Genesis’ team of like-minded scientists, AI researchers, and software engineers who are alumni from prestigious universities like MIT, Stanford, and UC Berkeley have gathered to facilitate AI technologies for drug discovery.

Besides its strong academic origins, Genesis has many robust industrial connections as well. Ben Sklaroff, The other co-founder, was a former employee and Director of software at Markforged. Dr. Peppi Prasit, Ph.D., who is a member of the Board of Directors, is known for his work on Vioxx®, Arcoxia®, Singulair® at Merck before establishing Amira Pharmaceuticals (acquired by Bristol Myers Squibb) and Inception Sciences.

Dr. Leonar Bell, M.D., who is also a member of the Board of Directors, is the principal founder and long-time CEO of Alexion Pharmaceuticals, where he developed four FDA-approved new drug entities Soliris, Strensiq, Kanuma, and Ultomiris.

Dr. Nicholas Stock, Ph.D., the Vice President of Chemistry, has collaborated with Dr. Prasit at three companies, co-invented 36 patents, and researched multiple clinical molecules. These extraordinary partnerships would allow Genesis to achieve both the synergy of machine learning with biophysical simulation and the combination of AI with pharma and biotech companies.


Genesis Molecular AI Platform

Genesis has been pivotal to the development of Dynamic PotentialNet and other cutting-edge neural network algorithms. It’s proprietary Molecular Generation Engine uncovers previously undruggable targets with better therapeutic options and molecule visualization. The platform provides sophisticated information about ligands and proteins. For instance, the information for binding affinity, solubility, the actual well-functioning theoretical molecule, and factors affecting the molecular conformational changes is not only presented visually, but the critical datasets for drug discovery and development are highlighted.

By Judy Ya-Hsuan Lin

Related Article: BioMarin Collaborates with Canadian Biotech for AI-based Drug Discovery



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