Pharma Company Aims to Develop Drugs Using AI Proteins

Pharma Company Aims to Develop Drugs Using AI Proteins


Biotech Startup Inceptive Raises $100 Million to Develop AI-Designed Vaccine Proteins

Inceptive, a biotech startup based in Palo Alto, has secured $100 million in funding to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) in creating unique vaccine proteins. The company aims to replicate the success of mRNA drugs, such as those used to combat COVID-19.

The CEO of Inceptive, Jakob Uszkoreit, a former senior staff software engineer at Google, plans to license the new proteins developed by their AI for clinical trials. Currently, there are 310 pilots spanning from pre-clinical to clinical trials.

Inceptive Aims for AI-Designed Proteins to Instruct Human Body Cells

Uszkoreit envisions the new drugs instructing human body cells to execute instructions, similar to how computers run code. By the end of this decade, approximately 700 mRNA-based drugs are expected to be available.

“We want to maximize the positive impact of this type of work in AI,” Uszkoreit emphasized.

During his time at Google, the CEO’s expertise in machine learning and natural language understanding contributed to DeepMind’s development of an algorithm capable of predicting the structure of nearly all known proteins.

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Proteins, composed of amino acids, play various roles in the body, including digestion and oxygen transportation.

Inceptive Gains Support from Venture Capitalists and NVidia

Inceptive has received backing from Silicon Valley venture capitalists Andreessen Horowitz and NVentures, the venture capital arm of NVidia Corporation. NVentures also invested $50 million in Recursion Pharmaceuticals, a drug discovery company based in Utah.

The collaboration between Inceptive and NVidia will grant the startup access to cutting-edge tools, while NVidia will acquire an equity stake in the company. Other prominent players in the AI-biotech field include Insilico, a company conducting mid-stage clinical trials for an AI-synthesized treatment for lung disease.

Biotech Investment Highlights a Shift in VC Spending

The involvement of major tech venture capitalists in the pharmaceutical industry signifies a significant change in VC funding patterns. Earlier this year, Morgan Stanley predicted a $50 billion opportunity for AI in the field of Big Pharma.

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Concerns and Challenges Surrounding AI in Biotech

Despite the potential, the biotech industry remains uncertain. Benevolent AI, a London-based startup, recently announced layoffs following the failure of its main drug candidate. Critics have also cautioned against the overhype of AI technology. Additionally, regulatory bodies like the US Federal Drug Administration have yet to approve a single AI-designed drug.

Hot Take: AI’s Role in Biotech Holds Promise and Challenges

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The integration of AI algorithms in biotech presents promising opportunities for drug development and protein engineering. However, as with any emerging technology, there are hurdles to overcome, including regulatory approval and managing unrealistic expectations. Nonetheless, the influx of venture capital into the field indicates a growing belief in AI’s potential to transform the pharmaceutical industry.

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Pharma Company Aims to Develop Drugs Using AI Proteins
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