BioSimulytics a University College Dublin (UCD) spin-out company, recently announced that it has secured €595k in initial seed funding from a number of strategic angel investors and Enterprise Ireland. The NovaUCD-headquartered company is focused on using artificial intelligence (AI) to digitise key steps in how new drug molecules are designed and developed.
BioSimulytics has developed a novel software solution, using a powerful combination of AI, machine learning, computational chemistry, quantum physics and high-performance computing (HPC), to drive smarter, faster, and more cost-effective R&D processes in the design and development of new drugs. The company’s software enables the pharma industry to advance potential molecules to approved medicines quicker and with a much greater probability of success.
BioSimulytics, which has already secured its first commercial contract with a major pharma company in Europe, and signed evaluation agreements with several others for industrial evaluation, will use the funding to support the growth of its product development team and client base and plans to complete a Series A funding round within the next 18-24 months.
In the pharma industry it can take between US$2-3 billion and over a decade to bring new drug molecules, which are manufactured in their solid-state crystal structure, to market with only a very limited (~1%) chance of success.
One of the complicating factors in the drug development process is polymorphism, the ability of a compound to exist in more than one stable crystalline structure. Drug molecules are complex compounds which can have hundreds of stable structures, and a polymorph may change to a more thermodynamically stable form hours, weeks and even years later depending on conditions.
Different drug polymorphs can have different properties such as solubility, toxicity, and efficacy. It is therefore vital for pharma companies to fully understand the polymorphic landscape of their drug molecules, required also for regulatory compliance and patent protection, and to have absolute certainty about identifying and reproducing the most stable crystal structure of any new drug before bringing it to market for patient use.
Experimental techniques which are the current state-of-the-art for identifying the most stable polymorph of a new drug molecule, are slow and arduous manual processes, which can take 6 months or more to complete and with potentially uncertain results.
BioSimulytics’ unique software solution only requires the basic 2D structure of a molecule to accurately predict the full polymorphic landscape of that molecule and to rank the most stable crystal structures of the molecule, within a matter of weeks. This provides pharma companies with far greater accuracy and certainty in the development process of new drugs, avoiding potentially very costly mistakes such as those cases in recent decades where polymorph problems have forced the pharma companies involved to pull their drugs from the market resulting in multi-million US dollar losses.
BioSimulytics was founded in 2019 by Professor Niall English, Dr Christian Burnham, and Peter Doyle as a spin-out from the UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering following the completion of Enterprise Ireland Commercialisation Funding.
Speaking from NovaUCD Peter Doyle, CEO, BioSimulytics said, “We are delighted to have secured this seed funding which will help us to expand our team here in Ireland and grow our client base in the EU and US markets.”
He added, “The successful development of COVID-19 vaccines over the last 18-months demonstrates the powerful role that new digital AI and HPC-based technologies play in dramatically transforming the pharma value chain. BioSimulytics’ goal is to be a key player in this rapidly expanding global market within the next few years.”
He concluded, “As a follow-on to this seed round we plan to complete a multi-million euro Series A funding round within the next 18 to 24 months following the full industrial validation of our technology.”
Alan Hobbs, Manager, High Potential Start-Ups (Life Sciences and Industrial) at Enterprise Ireland said, “BioSimulytics is a great example of a world-class High Potential Start-Up driving innovative solutions to support the design and development of new drugs and we are delighted to support the company and to be part of this investment round.”
“We wish Peter and all the team every success with this exciting new phase of development for the company and look forward to continuing to work with them to achieve their ambitious plans for the future.”
BioSimulytics was the overall winner of the 2019 UCD VentureLaunch Accelerator Programme run by NovaUCD. In addition, the company was a finalist in the 2020 The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Global Awards, widely considered as the world’s most prestigious chemical-engineering awards.
Pictured: (l-r) outside NovaUCD are members of the BioSimulytics team; Phuc Le Khac, Mohammad Reza Ghaani, Peter Doyle (CEO & co-founder), Mozhdeh Shiranirad, Alan Cueva Mora, Niall English (co-founder) and Christian Burnham (co-founder). (Credit: Dominique Davoust.)