CHARM Therapeutics launches with a $50 million Series A financing to transform structure-based drug discovery using its proprietary DragonFold AI technology.
London based CHARM Therapeutics rushes into the 3D deep-learning space with a $50M Series A financing co-led by F-Prime Capital and OrbiMed, with General Catalyst, Khosla Ventures, Braavos and Axial also participating. They aim for discovering and developing transformational medicines, founders are David Baker, Ph.D. and Laksh Aithani.
“3D deep-learning on macromolecular configurations represents a new era in drug discovery. The work of David Baker in predicting highly accurate three-dimensional structures of proteins offers potential to explore new frontiers in medicine, approaching disease targets previously considered undruggable. CHARM Therapeutics has been created to combine these breakthroughs in 3D deep-learning with excellence in drug discovery and development,” said Gary D. Glick Ph.D., Executive Chair of CHARM Therapeutics. “With the support of these high-quality new investors, we look forward to realising these goals.”
Co-founder David Baker, Ph.D., Head of the Institute for Protein Design, University of Washington, is a world-renowned leader in protein design. He received the 20th Wiley Prize for his work in predicting accurate three-dimensional structures of proteins. David Baker, Ph.D., co-founder of CHARM Therapeutics, commented: “Recent advances in deep-learning-based protein-folding have radically altered the scope of what we can achieve in biology, and I’m thrilled that we have created CHARM Therapeutics to develop this to address unmet needs in medicine.”
In the years before Google's DeepMind opened AlphaFold, structure-based drug design was limited by three fundamental challenges: first, determining non-orthosteric binding sites; second, predicting the joint pose of a ligand bound to a flexible protein; and third, predicting the strength of the binding interactions, which is an intricate interplay between enthalpy and entropy. All of these obstacles have still to be overcome for realistic predictions. CHARM Therapeutics’ proprietary DragonFold technology, developed by David Baker and Laksh Aithani, uses end-to-end 3D deep-learning to predict the co-crystal structure of a protein-ligand complex based on a protein's primary sequence and the ligand’s chemical structure. With people from DeepMind joining CHARM the stage is set for interesting results in the future.
“Due to the end-to-end nature of DragonFold, it has the potential to simultaneously determine the binding site and model induced fit as well as predict the pose and affinity of the ligand, thus unlocking the true potential of structure-based drug design,” said Laksh Aithani, co-founder, Chief Executive Officer and Board Member of CHARM Therapeutics. “We are advancing this technology and its application to the hit discovery, hit-to-lead and lead optimization processes of small molecule drug discovery.”
Gary D. Glick and Laksh Aithani will be supported by a Board of Directors that includes Muz Mansuri, Ph.D., Venture Partner at F-Prime Capital and previously on the Executive Committee at Sanofi and Gilead Sciences. Also joining the Board will be Rishi Gupta, J.D., Partner at OrbiMed. Joining as Senior Vice President and Head of Drug Discovery is Sarah Skerratt, Ph.D., previously Head of Preclinical Sciences at MSD. Before joining CHARM Therapeutics, she held senior positions at Vertex Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer. Sergey Bartunov, Ph.D., Director of AI, joins from Google DeepMind. Chris Bischoff, Managing Director at General Catalyst, Alex Morgan, M.D., Ph.D., Partner at Khosla Ventures, and Nessan Bermingham, Ph.D., Partner at Khosla Ventures and previously founder and CEO of Intellia Therapeutics, join the Board as observers.