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Investment

Investors back AI-enhanced drug-discovery firms

by Rick Mullin
May 29, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 21

 

Insitro, a drug-discovery firm that combines high-throughput biology and machine-learning techniques, has raised $143 million in a financing round led by Andreessen Horowitz and including the venture fund of the pharmaceutical services firm WuXi AppTec. Insitro, based in South San Francisco, is applying machine learning to navigate massive data sets in drug design and development. Meanwhile, Exscientia, an Oxford, England–based firm that employs artificial intelligence (AI) in small-molecule drug discovery, has raised $60 million in a round of funding led by Novo Holdings and including Bristol-Myers Squibb and the drug-discovery services firm Evotec. Exscientia announced earlier this year that the drug candidate it designed using AI with Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma has entered Phase I clinical trials for the treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder. AI was in the spotlight recently when Insilico Medicine and a partnership between BenevolentAI and Imperial College London used the technique to identify drugs, both new and existing, that could be used against the novel coronavirus.

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