Artificial Intelligence,BioPharma

Generate Bio adds $370M for big push toward programmable protein medicines

Generate Biomedicines applies artificial intelligence and machine learning to protein analysis, which it uses to program its protein therapies for particular applications. The startup now has $370 million in financing to rapidly scale up operations, with a goal of reaching the clinic within two years.

AI, machine learning

“Programmable medicine” is a phrasepopping up in biotech financings lately—usually in the context of genetic medicines. But RNA therapies aren’t the only drugs that can beprogrammed with features and functions. Artificial intelligence is revealing new protein insights, and Generate Biomedicines claims its suite of proprietary technologies enables the startup to develop programmable protein therapies. The company justraised $370 millionto prove it.

So how does Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Generate program its proteins? It has analyzed the universe of known proteins in nature to learn how they’re made and how they function. The protein analysis identifies aspects of a disease that can be addressed with a protein. The technology finds patterns, and using machine-learning techniques, it makes predictions about the targets a protein will bind to as well as the subsequent therapeutic effect.

生成方法可以addr声称它ess targets that were previously deemed undruggable. The company also says the technology speeds up the process of protein drug research. Those protein therapies can come in various forms: peptides, antibodies, enzymes, and cytokines. But Generate also says its technology can go beyond proteins found in nature by generating entirely novel proteins designed for a particular therapeutic need.

“Generate is deploying machine learning at scale to understand the genetic code underlying the function of proteins,” the startup’s CEO Mike Nally said in a prepared statement. “We are pioneering the field of Generative Biology—a revolutionary approach to drug development that allows us to program novel protein therapeutics capable of performing almost any desired biological function.”

Generate is a product of venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering. The protein analysis technologiesdeveloped within Flagship for three years before Generate formally launched last year. At the time, the startup’s founders would not say much about particular drugs or drug targets. Generate isn’t disclosing much more about its pipeline now, other than to say it aims to have multiple preclinical programs by the end of this year, and several in clinical testing in 2023.

To execute on its plans, Generate is rapidly scaling up its operations. The company is building two facilities totaling 140,000 square feet. Those sites will house computational biology, machine learning, and data generation, as well as wet lab capabilities. The startup also going on a hiring spree. The company projects that its headcount of about 80 will balloon to an estimated 500 over the next two years.

The financing announced Thursday is a Series B round of funding. Besides Flagship, disclosed investors include a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, the Alaska Permanent Fund, Altitude Life Science Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Morningside Ventures, and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates.

Photo: Andrzej Wojcicki, Getty Images