Octant Scores $80M in Series B Funds, Partnership with BMS


Emeryville, CA-based Octant is closing the week on a busy note, announcing an $80 million Series B financing round, a Deep Mutual Scanning (DMS) biopharma partnership with Bristol Myers Squibb and key appointments to its leadership.

Octant was founded in 2017 with a platform leveraging data-driven therapeutics to develop programmable biology and chemistry to build precision medicines.

The latest financing round was led by Catalio Capital Management and included participation from BMS and existing investors Andreessen Horowitz Bio Fund, Allen & Co. and 50 Years VC. The financing has increased Octant’s raised funding to $115 million since its inception.

The company plans to utilize its new funds to further expand its platform capabilities and pipelines, advance its proprietary drug discovery technology and generate datasets to investigate relationships between drug candidates, genes and biochemical mechanisms of cells. Octant is also working toward developing small molecule chaperone therapies for rare genetic diseases.

Octant has also entered into a collaboration with BMS to apply DMS technology to a set of inflammation-related pathways. DMS is a method that utilizes deep sequencing technology in combination with a library of molecules to probe the functional effects of mutations or variants of the molecules. In this case, DMS will be used to investigate different variants related to inflammatory pathways.

“Immunogenetics and immunopharmacology are among the most complex areas in biology and drug discovery, with potential to impact countless patients,” Sri Kosuri, Sc.D., CEO and co-founder of Octant said in a press release. “We're thrilled to work with Bristol Myers Squibb, a leader in immunology and genetics-driven drug development, to apply Octant's platform and leading, proprietary mutagenic scanning technologies to Bristol Myers Squibb’s foundational work for the benefit of patients around the world.”

Octant also appointed Rick Artis as its Chief Scientific Officer, with responsibility for the company’s chemistry function and drug discovery and development programs. Before joining Octant in December 2021, Artis served as senior vice president of chemistry for Annexon Biosciences. Feng Zhang also joined Octant’s Scientific Advisory Board. Zhang is a world-renowned expert in synthetic biology and functional genomics who pioneered the development of genome editing tools for use in eukaryotic and human cells.

Octant uses an approach called Cellular Intelligence to drive its drug discovery and development. Cellular Intelligence promises to demonstrate the mechanistic relationships between genetics, chemistry and complex diseases by utilizing high throughput synthetic biology and chemistry. The company utilizes a multiplexed assay platform to design gene circuits, uncover the workings of biochemical pathways and engineer new therapies. Overall, the technology can conduct thousands of simulations trained on small amounts of experimental data in an approach to scale actual experiments.

Octant made news in January 2022 regarding its collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles. Octant was founded and incubated at UCLA and collaborated with a laboratory to create SwabSeq, a tool used to diagnose COVID-19. SwabSeq is a faster approach to testing for COVID-19 with the ability to run tens of thousands of tests simultaneously using next-generation DNA sequencing. It is less expensive than traditional PCR testing.

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