A startup that uses software to discover new drugs just raised $10 million
- twoXAR, a startup that uses software to discover new, experimental drugs, just raised $10 million.
- The Series A round was led by Softbank Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz OS Fund joined in on the round.
- The company hopes to find new treatments that can then be put to the test in animal, and then ideally human trials, without using a traditional lab.
TwoXAR, a startup that's using software to discover new drugs that can be put to the test to treat different conditions, just raised $10 million.
The Series A round was led by Softbank Ventures, and Andreessen Horowitz OS Fund joined in on the round.The company was founded by Andrew Radin and Andrew Radin. Andrew A. Radin is CEO, while Andrew M. Radin is chief marketing officer. The name twoXAR is a nod to the founders have the same name (two times their initials, AR).
JP Lee, managing director at Softbank Ventures, told Business Insider that the firm had been looking for investments in which artificial intelligence could be used to save time or cost by reducing how much work humans have to do. TwoXAR's software-based drug discovery platform fit the bill.
"Basically, they're all purely software-based; they don't even have their own lab," Lee said.
Here's how that works:
Take a pharmaceutical company on the hunt for new drugs to add to its drug development portfolio. Traditionally, that company would work to figure out the science behind a particular disease, working to find disease targets it could then design drugs to go after. Ths can be a lengthy process involving a lot of lab work and uncertainty that the drug designed will work once you start to test it in animals.
Should a pharma company decide to work with twoXAR on it, the company can say they're looking for new treatments in a particular disease area, like diabetes. twoXAR can pick it up from there, finding the targets, designing the drugs, and getting them ready to put into pre-clinical, animal testing. The startup charges for that work, but once it's done, the drug candidate goes back into the pharmaceutical company's hands.TwoXAR also plans to discover drugs on its own. To start, the plan is to go into areas like cancer, dermatology, ophthalmology, and immunology.
For example, in 2017, twoXAR collaborated with the Asian Liver Center at Stanford to discover TXR-311, an experimental drug for liver cancer. The drug, twoXAR said, showed "positive results in cell-based assays."
Now that the company's been able to show that its program works through the liver cancer drug candidate, the Series A funding will be used to open the company up for business and take on more projects, Andrew A. Radin said.
Applying artificial intelligence to the drug discovery process - which can often be a long, expensive process - has started attracting more attention from investors. For example, Atomwise, which designs drugs that companies can then test out, raised $45 million in its Series A round on March 7. IBM's Watson AI is also been used in drug discovery.