Engine Biosciences expands its digital drug discovery pipeline with $43M round



Drug discovery is a large and growing field, encompassing both ambitious startups and billion-dollar Big Pharma incumbents. Engine Biosciences is one of the former, a Singaporean outfit with an expert founding crew and a different approach to the business of finding new therapeutics, and it just raised $43 million to keep growing.

Digital drug discovery in general means large-scale analysis of biological data like genes, gene expression, protein structures, binding sites, things like that. Where it has hit a wall in the past is not on the digital side, where any number of likely molecules or processes can be generated, but on the next step, when those notions need to be tested in vitro. So a new crop of biotech companies have worked to integrate these aspects.

Engine does so with a pair of tools it has dubbed NetMAPPR and CombiGEM. NetMAPPR is a huge sort of search engine for genes and gene interactions, taking special note of “errors” that could provide a foothold for a molecule or treatment. CombiGEM is like a mass genetic testing process that can look into thousands of gene combinations and edits on diseased cells simultaneously, providing quick experimental confirmation of the targets and effects proposed by the digital side. The company is focused on anti-cancer drugs but is looking into other fields as they become viable.

Jeffrey Lu, Co-Founder and CEO, Engine Biosciences

Image Credits: Engine Biosciences

The focus on gene interactions sets their approach apart, said co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Lu.

“Gene interactions are relevant to all diseases, and in (Read more...)