Chinese Pharma, Tech Giant Throws Support Behind Insilico Medicine

Ryan Black
JUNE 11, 2018
Baltimore-based therapeutics company Insilico Medicine announced today that it had closed a strategic funding round led by Shanghai-based healthcare technology investment giant WuXi.

Insilico specializes in using advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to pinpoint targets for new drugs and theorize molecules that could be used against certain diseases. In particular, it’s focused on using generative adversarial networks (GAN) to find accurate, verifiable biomarkers. In a previous interview, Insilico Chief Operating Officer Qinsong Zhu told Healthcare Analytics News™ that their methodology could be an improvement on existing AI-powered drug discovery methods.

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“After we generate new molecules, we can focus on these few molecules instead of screening from hundreds and thousands compound as the traditional drug discovery methods,” Zhu said. “In theory, the methodology could apply to any medical condition, as long as we could have enough training data.”

WuXi’s AppTec venture arm led the new funding round, with contributions from Pavilion Capital, BOLD Capital, and Juvenescence (which also has a treatment discovery arrangement with the company). The total value of the round has yet to be disclosed.

Insilico Medicine’s founder and CEO, Alex Zhavoronkov, praised his company’s new backers in an official statement. "WuXi AppTec is a leading global pharmaceutical and technology platform company and it has been a privilege to work hand-in-hand with WuXi AppTec's world-class chemists and biologists, who routinely solve some of the most complex challenges presented by the global pharmaceutical industry," he said.

The strategic pairing will also integrate Insilico’s efforts with WuXi AppTec’s laboratory infrastructure. Edward Hu, Chief Investment Officer at WuXi AppTec, said that his firm was impressed with the breadth of Insilico’s technological capabilities and applications, “ranging from target identification and small molecule generation using next-generation artificial intelligence to expertise in blockchain and aging research."

Insilico Medicine was born out of Johns Hopkins University’s Emerging Technology Centers, and has only existed as an independent company since 2014. Its previous 2 funding rounds raised a total of $14 million, and it has also forged a drug development partnership with American pharma company GlaxoSmithKline.

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