London-based AI startup Peptone closes $40m Series A funding to build a state-of-the-art research facility in Bellinzona

London-based AI startup Peptone closes $40m Series A funding to build a state-of-the-art research facility in Bellinzona

Published: 20-06-2022 12:31:00 | By: Pie Kamau | hits: 463 | Tags:

Peptone, the molecular computational physics company focused on protein drug discovery, announced the successful completion of a $40 million Series A financing round to develop the world’s most advanced facility dedicated to solving complex and problematic intrinsically disordered protein structures at scale, pioneering a new class of potential therapeutic targets and drugs.

The round was led by F-Prime Capital and Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from Walden Catalyst Ventures and existing investors, including Hoxton Ventures and dRX Capital, the venture arm of Novartis.

Kamil Tamiola, Co-founder and CEO, Peptone: “Disordered proteins operate right at the point where physics becomes biology. By taking a rigorous and computer-driven experimental physics approach to analyzing proteins, we can go beyond classical drug discovery approaches and observe protein behavior 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.”

The investment enables Peptone to build a state-of-the-art research facility in Bellinzona, a rapidly emerging biotechnology cluster in the south of Switzerland, bringing together their proprietary atomistic experiments and supercomputing technology. From there, the Company will be able to initiate their own pipeline of unique targets in a range of diseases, including inflammation, cancer and diabetes, and begin experimenting with a completely novel class of medicines — structurally dynamic drugs based on disordered proteins. The funding will additionally support Peptone’s algorithmic engine, which runs on a supercomputer built in exclusive collaboration with NVIDIA in Keflavik, Iceland, and is powered by 100% geothermal and hydroelectric renewable energy.

Around half the proteins in the human body, including many that are crucial in health and disease, have some regions that do not fold neatly into fixed structures and thus cannot be accurately predicted from the underlying genetic sequences. Due to this lack of information, many drug development programs fail because they aim rigidly designed drugs against these disordered targets.

Andrew Hedin, Partner, Bessemer Venture Partners: “As part of our biotech practice, we’ve been studying the intersection of ML-based drug discovery for several years, and Peptone’s approach immediately stood out. Their computational physics-based Oppenheimer platform is uniquely suited to understand the structural dynamics of these difficult-to-drug disordered proteins, which allows them to develop therapies against these important disease-causing proteins. We believe that Peptone’s technology has vast potential to create many proprietary therapeutics to treat diseases with significant need, as well as to partner on co-development opportunities given their impressive proof-of-concept work.”

Since its founding in 2018, Peptone has combined atom-level physical protein analysis techniques to create an accurate representation of disordered proteins and protein regions, predicting the best way to target them with drugs. The Company approaches its analysis by merging nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy and hydrogen-exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS), with machine learning (ML) and supercomputing.

Alex Pasteur, Partner at F-Prime Capital: “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 modeling to unlock these targets. F-Prime is delighted to back this multidisciplinary team on their mission to discover breakthrough drugs.”

Peptone’s technology has been tested through partnerships with major pharmaceutical companies, helping them progress formerly ‘misbehaving’ protein-based drugs against partially disordered targets through the development pipeline.

Francis Ho, Partner at Walden Catalyst Ventures: “Computational drug discovery is resurgent, but the missing piece is how to understand disordered proteins. We believe Peptone could be the key to completing this puzzle..The Peptone team possesses the right combination of world-class scientific expertise, deep collaboration with top pharma and biotech partners, and incredible energy and passion to move mountains.”