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Aqemia wins $32.5m for generative AI-powered drug discovery platform

Paris-based biotech Aqemia has secured €30m ($32.5m) in Series A funding to advance its generative artificial intelligence (AI)-led drug pipeline.

The company previously raised €30m in October 2022, bringing the total Series A round to €60m. Paris-based investment company Wendel Growth led the round, Aqemia said in a 30 January press release.

Aqemia said it will use the funding to expand its pipeline of drug discovery projects and assets. The company spun out of École normale supérieure in 2019 with already assimilated knowledge of quantum physics algorithms. Now, it combines the tech with generative AI to identify and design drug candidates.

The company added it already has several oncology and immuno-oncology projects in the preclinical phase. Aqemia’s co-founder and CEO Maximilien Levesque said the company is advancing these to clinical trials.

Unlike other AI-driven drug discovery platforms, Aqemia states that no chemical experimental data is needed to train its technology for the design phase. Aqemia generates its data in-house using quantum and statistical physics-based calculations.

The unique approach attracted the attention of French pharma giant Sanofi, which signed a deal with Aqemia last month. The drugmaker paid $140m in upfront and milestone payments to Aqemia while the latter is tasked with applying its generative AI and physics algorithms to discover small molecules across several unnamed therapeutic areas.

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By GlobalData

Sanofi was not the first company to start working with Aqemia. In December 2021, French pharma Servier entered a collaboration agreement for small molecule drug discovery on an undisclosed target in immuno-oncology.

The generative AI space in drug discovery is growing. Deep learning biotech startup Evozyne, which uses AI to simulate millions of years of evolution in proteins to identify targets, raised $81m in a Series B round in September 2023. Genesis Therapeutics, another AI-led drug development company, raised $200m in Series B financing in August 2023.

Big pharma is also tying up deals to solidify its pipeline with AI tech, with MSD, Genentech, and Eli Lilly partnering with Amazon, NVIDIA, and Genesis respectively.

Levesque added: “We embark on this next chapter of our history to accelerate our drug discovery programmes, to build a larger proprietary pipeline beyond our projects already tested in animals, and to shape a global organisation that embraces generative AI and rigorous physics as key instruments to bring excellence in small molecule drug discovery.”

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