METiS Launches to Take Drug Development a Quantum Leap Ahead
METiS Therapeutics, a biopharma company developing AI-driven medicines for patients with serious diseases, announced Tuesday that it has secured $86 million in Series A financing to support a 2022 clinical trial and the further development of its predictive AI platform.
The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company has developed an artificial intelligence platform designed to optimize pharmaceutical formulation processes. METiS’ technology helps to accelerate the movement of new drugs through the pipeline by optimizing pre-clinical trial operations and enabling users to conduct research and design efficiently. It also leverages machine learning and quantum simulation to create small-molecule and Ribonucleic acid (RNA) drugs.
Two Chinese investment firms, People’s Insurance Company of China (PICC PE) and China Life Insurance Company, spearheaded the financing round. They were joined by Sequoia Capital China, Lightspeed and 5Y Capital, along with several other institutional investors.
METiS was envisioned by a team of advisors from XtalPi, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and other biotech entrepreneurs who saw the potential of machine learning and computational chemistry to transform drug development.
“METiS is well-positioned to change the drug discovery and delivery landscape with the creation of a proprietary predictive AI platform. We leverage machine learning, AI and quantum simulation to uncover novel drug candidates and to transform drug discovery and development, ultimately bringing the best therapies to patients in need,” METiS Co-founder and CEO Chris Lai said in a statement. “We are fortunate that our world-class roster of investors believes in our vision and today’s news represents the first of many significant milestones that we will be accomplishing throughout the next year.”
In fact, Lai told the Boston Business Journal that using software tests as well as animals, the team has proven the ability to achieve “100X improvement in delivery and development.” He also expressed confidence that the platform could produce results on a level that could rival RNA big-time RNA companies Moderna and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.
Lai said the company’s internal pipeline will initially focus on orphan diseases, central nervous system disorders and autoimmune diseases, with the intention to branch out into gene therapy.
With a platform it believes could benefit other high-potential therapeutics, in-licensing also appears to be a part of METiS’ long-term strategy.
Currently, the company employs 70 individuals in both China and Cambridge. Most of the team is currently located in China, but METiS has plans to expand its U.S. employee base two or even three-fold in 2022 with these new funds.