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London Tech Week

ChatGPT of molecular discovery: Amply raises £1.4M for AI-powered drug discovery

Picture credits: Amply

Traditional drug discovery is a time-consuming and expensive process with pre-clinical stages taking three to six years and costing hundreds of millions to billions of dollars. However, a host of AI tools are revolutionising nearly every stage of the drug discovery process, offering a substantial potential to reshape the speed and economics of the industry. 

The global AI in drug discovery market reached $0.6 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $4.0 billion by 2027. Shaping up this market, a few startups, including Paris-based Aqemia raised €60 million and Palo Alto-based Inceptive snapped $100 million. Now, Amply Discovery, a Belfast-based biotech startup, has raised £1.4 million in grant funding. 

Investment details 

The investment arrives in two parts. Firstly, £835K came from Innovate UK and Innosuisse and will be used to investigate and develop new RNAi therapy for Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. The second part of £602K came that from Innovate UK to develop a new nebulised antimicrobial product for MDR-TB. 

Notably, the MDR-TB project is a collaboration with St George’s University London and its AML project is being run with a Swiss-based biotech partner.

Previously, Amply Discovery has closed its pre-seed funding in 2022. The seed funding round will be completed in the Q2 of 2024. 

The existing investors in the biotech startup include Co-fund NI, which is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers and supported by Invest NI and the British Business Bank, QUBIS Limited, the Helix Way Partnership, Techstars, and angel investment from members of the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN).

ChatGPT for molecule discovery

Amply Discovery was founded by Dr. Ben Thomas and Dermot Tierney in 2021 as a spin-out of Queen’s University Belfast. Amply Discovery solves serious issues such as the global health threat of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by democratising drug discovery through AI and synthetic biology. AMR threatens to render ineffective mankind’s current portfolio of antibiotics to fight infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. 

It employs unique machine learning and AI techniques to discover novel drugs. Its unique AI platform is said to be the ChatGPT for molecule discovery with amino acids and oligonucleotides as its building blocks. Synthetic biology is used to synthesise and validate these AI-discovered candidates in a real-world setting.

The company powers the discovery of cures for cancer, metabolic, and infectious diseases through AI and synthetic biology, discovering new drugs more predictable and less expensive. Its technology platform has been the subject of more than a decade of research and development.

Dr Ben Thomas, Chief Executive Officer, and Co-Founder said: “This new funding will further help AMPLY to realise its ambition of democratising the discovery of new therapeutics by building a transformative Drug Discovery Studio which leverages the raw power of evolution to unearth new medicines from nature’s huge untapped reservoir.” 

Dermot Tierney, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder said: “As a drug discovery studio that discovers and develops de novo first-in-class drug candidates for downstream out-licensing this funding will significantly enhance our pipeline of license-ready assets.” 

Mark Beards, Non-executive Chairperson said: “AMPLY Discovery is a fantastic example of another quality Life Science company emerging from the buoyant Northern Ireland ecosystem”.

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