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London Tech Week

This startup has built a hydroelectric supercomputer with Nvidia to treat cancer and diabetes, snags $40M

Image credits: Peptone

Situated in London, the molecular computational physics company Peptone that’s challenging biopharmaceutical research and development has announced to have successfully completed a $40M Series A. Peptone is pioneering an innovative drug discovery method which applies advanced biophysics, atomic-level experimental approaches, cutting-edge supercomputing and machine learning to revolutionise biopharmaceutical research and development.

This round was led by F-Prime Capital along with Bessemer Venture Partners (a US-based VC firm which also recently invested in Vertice and Choco). Other featuring investors included Walden Catalyst Ventures and existing investors Hoxton Ventures and dRX Capital, the venture arm of Novartis.

Impacting biopharmaceutical research and development

An estimated 50% of the proteins in the human body, including many that are critical in health and disease, have several regions that don’t fold neatly into fixed structures. This has resulted in them not being accurately distinguished from the underlying genetic sequences. This lack of information has led many drug development programs to fail because they aim drugs that are rigidly designed and fail to identify disordered targets.

Peptone, founded by Kamil Tamiola & Matt Heberling combines atom-level physical protein analysis techniques to create an accurate representation of disordered proteins and protein regions. This helps the company in predicting the best way to target these intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs) with drugs. The company’s analysis merges nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and hydrogen-exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS), with machine learning (ML) as well as supercomputing.

The biotech’s technology has been tested through partnerships with major pharmaceuticals and has helped them progress the development of formerly ‘misbehaving’ protein-based drugs against partially disordered targets via the development pipeline.

“By taking a rigorous and computer-driven experimental physics approach to analysing proteins, we can go beyond classical drug discovery approaches and observe protein behaviour that algorithms like AlphaFold cannot. This new funding will allow us to further advance our platform and support the investigation of the disordered protein universe towards developing drugs of the future,” states Peptone’s co-founder and CEO Kamil Tamiola, PhD.

Building a hydroelectric supercomputer

This investment will enable Peptone to build a state-of-the-art research facility in Bellinzona, the rapidly emerging biotech cluster in south Switzerland. This facility will bring together its proprietary atomistic experiments and supercomputing technology and in the process will assist the company to better initiate its own pipeline of unique targets in a range of diseases, including inflammation, cancer and diabetes. It will also allow for experimenting with a completely novel class of medicines i.e., structurally dynamic drugs based on disordered proteins.

Recently, TFN also covered 10 visionary startups in 2022 fighting cancer using AI and Peptone is also one of them. As the funding will additionally support Peptone’s algorithmic engine which runs on a supercomputer built exclusively in collaboration with NVIDIA in Keflavik, Iceland. Peptone’s new NVIDIA DGX A100 supercomputer is located at Verne Global’s campus and is powered by 100% renewable energy. As part of the NVIDIA DGX-Ready Data Centre Program, it’s optimised to maintain & support high density and HPC applications running on NVIDIA’s infrastructure.

“Disordered proteins are important in biology but lack a constant binding pocket. Peptone’s platform exploits the accuracy of experimental techniques with the efficiency of in silico modelling to unlock these targets,” commented Alex Pasteur, PhD, Partner at F-Prime Capital and investor in Peptone.

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