AI-enabled platform secures $121m to 'spearhead' NCE discovery, predictive pharmacology

By Melissa Fassbender

- Last updated on GMT

(Image: Getty/rost-9D)
(Image: Getty/rost-9D)

Related tags Artificial intelligence AI Drug discovery machine learning Recursion Pharmaceuticals

Recursion Pharmaceuticals plans to partner with big pharma on rare disease programs after raising $121m to build out its machine learning-enabled platform, which draws on an in-house developed dataset to support drug discovery and development.

Recursion Pharmaceuticals is using artificial intelligence (AI) to support drug discovery and development. The Salt Lake City, UT-based company recently closed a $121m Series C financing round to build out its platform and advance new capabilities.

“This round will also help us advance our pipeline of preclinical and clinical assets, including our two lead programs for cerebral cavernous malformation and neurofibromatosis type 2, both rare diseases and both in Phase I clinical development,” s​aid Amanda Guisbond, director of communications at Recursion.

Guisbond told us the “major” differentiator of the company is its data: “We've built the industry's largest biological images dataset, fit for the purpose of machine learning, a differentiator that's been increasingly recognized by the AI/machine learning for biology community as essential to the effective development of new machine learning algorithms,” ​she said.

As opposed to other companies in this space, Guisbond said Recursion is not mining publicly available datasets, and is instead, using its own, which currently includes more than 2.5 petabytes of data – “more than all of the Hollywood feature-length films,”​ she added.

Guisbond said the company is also different in its approach. “Unlike many of the AI companies that have popped up in this sector since our founding in 2013, we decided on day one that – instead of chipping away at one facet of drug discovery and offering our services for a fee to big pharma – we would aim to apply this advanced technology to the full spectrum of drug discovery and development,”​ she explained.

That comes full circle today with this financing which will support our efforts to spearhead new chemical entity discovery and predictive pharmacology,” ​she added.

As per the company’s partnerships strategy, Recursion plans to advance its own drugs in rare diseases and partner with big pharma on rare disease programs.

The company today has existing partnerships with Takeda and Sanofi and is actively negotiating deals with “big pharma partners,”​ which Guisbond said will use Recursion’s platform for broader indications such as immuno-oncology, oncology, aging, and inflammation.

A new investor – and venture group behind various health tech startups including Juno, Denali, Unity, and Flatiron Health – Baillie Gifford led the Series C financing round with participation from new investors Intermountain Ventures, Regents of the University of Minnesota, Texas Tech University System, and select angel investors.

All prior institutional investors also participated. This included Lux Capital, Data Collective, Mubadala Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, Obvious Ventures, Felicis Ventures, Epic Ventures, Menlo Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, and CRV.

Since closing its Series B financing round less than two years ago, the company has moved two drugs discovered on its platform into clinical trials and has grown its team from 64 to more than 150.

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