British AI Firm Gets €9M Boost to Develop Drug-Discovery Tech

London-based LabGenius has secured €8.9M in Series A funding, which the company plans to use to scale up its AI- and robotics-based drug development technology.

LabGenius focuses on developing protein-based therapeutics using its ‘robot scientist’ EVA. “By transforming how these drugs are discovered, we have a shot at improving the lives of countless people,” said James Field, LabGenius Founder and CEO.

EVA is an engine that has the ability to map the links between DNA sequence and the function of the corresponding proteins. It collects large amounts of data generated in the lab by synthesizing many different sequences of DNA and ‘learns’ from this information, which results in models that can more accurately predict protein function.

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“The discovery of protein therapeutics has historically been highly artisanal, relying heavily on humans for both experimental design and execution. This dependence has proved limiting because, as a species, we’re cognitively incapable of fully grasping the complexity of biological systems,” explained Field.

A current project the company is working on is an ongoing partnership with Swiss-Japanese company Tillotts Pharma to develop new drugs for inflammatory bowel disease. 

Lux Capital and Obvious Ventures, both US-based VC firms that focus on tech and life science investment, led the round. Other contributions came mostly from US and Canadian investors although London-based Air Street Capital, an investor focusing on AI-first technology, also invested.

LabGenius plans to use the money to increase the size of its team. It will also begin using its drug discovery technology to generate new antibody-based drug candidates for conditions where there is an unmet medical need. 

Laboratory automation is becoming increasingly more common, with companies such as LabGenius and UK-based Synthace leading the way in Europe. Synbio giant Ginkgo Bioworks in the US has also taken this technology to a high level with its completely automated genetic ‘foundries’, and there are many other American biotechs exploring this area.


Images via Shutterstock

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