AI drug designer XtalPi raises $318M from SoftBank, Tencent, others for 'digital twin' simulation efforts
By integrating its virtual R&D work with real-world laboratory testing data, XtalPi aims to develop a new digital-twin simulation system for modeling the activity of potential new drugs, making it easier for biopharmaceutical companies to pick the best candidates for clinical studies. (UCSF)
Artificial intelligence-based drug molecule designer XtalPi has secured a mammoth series C funding round totaling $318.8 million, raised from global investment companies across the banking and technology sectors.
The round was co-led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2, PICC Capital and Morningside Venture Capital, alongside follow-on investments from the company’s previous backers Tencent, Sequoia China, China Life and SIG. The proceeds will help XtalPi expand the reach of its AI and cloud computing-powered platform.
In addition, by integrating its virtual R&D work with real-world laboratory testing data, the company aims to develop a new digital twin simulation system for modeling the activity of potential new drugs, making it easier for biopharmaceutical companies to pick the best candidates for clinical studies.
"In the past few years, we have focused on developing and validating our platform's capabilities by working with some of the top innovative pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the world," said Shuhao Wen, XtalPi’s chairman and co-founder. "As an advocate and trailblazer in AI drug discovery, our investors and we are heartened by several of our AI drug discovery collaborations that reached milestones in significantly shortened timeframes. We believe AI holds the answer to solving pharma's productivity challenge.”
The company said it plans take a “three-pronged approach” to expanding its platform, by simultaneously developing its algorithms, drug-like molecule database and computing power. Currently, XtalPi’s system incorporates over 100 algorithms to predict the interactions between molecules and proteins at the atomic level, and map out its pharmacologic properties.
And by tapping international cloud-computing providers, the company assembles supercomputing clusters consisting of over a million processing cores.
"We believe XtalPi is a leader in transforming drug discovery through its innovative multi-disciplinary approach," said Eric Chen, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers. "Using a combination of quantum physics, AI and cloud computing, XtalPi's technology platform is improving the efficiency and accuracy of drug research and development."
Sep 28, 2020