Xaira, an AI-powered drug discovery startup, raises an enormous $1B to kickstart drug development operations

$1B, AI drug discovery startup, developing drugs, Ready, Xaira

Advances in generative AI have made a significant impact in various industries, and now the tech world is seeing a similar revolution in the field of drug discovery. Biotech investors are recognizing the potential of computational methods in revolutionizing the way we develop new drugs. One company at the forefront of this movement is Xaira Therapeutics, which recently received $1 billion in funding from investors like ARCH Venture Partners and Foresite Labs.

Xaira Therapeutics, led by CEO Marc Tessier-Lavigne, is determined to leverage recent breakthroughs in AI to develop drugs that were previously impossible to create. The company has been operating in stealth mode for the past six months, and its investors believe that the technology is at an inflection point where it can have a transformative effect on the field of drug discovery.

The foundational models that serve as the basis for Xaira’s work come from the University of Washington’s Institute of Protein Design, led by co-founder David Baker. These models, similar to the diffusion models used in image generators like OpenAI’s DALL-E and Midjourney, aim to design molecular structures that can be physically created in a three-dimensional world.

While the investors of Xaira are confident in the potential of generative AI in biology, they acknowledge that this field is still in its early stages. Unlike in technology, where large amounts of data are readily available to train AI models, biology and medicine face the challenge of being “data poor.” In other words, the datasets required to drive model development need to be created.

Despite this challenge, there are already other biotech companies utilizing generative AI in drug design. Recursion, for example, recently went public in 2021, and Genesis Therapeutics raised a significant amount of funding in a Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz. These companies are paving the way for AI-driven drug discovery and demonstrating the potential of this technology in the biotech industry.

Xaira did not provide a specific timeline for when it expects to have its first drug available for human trials. However, ARCH Venture Partners managing director Bob Nelsen emphasized that Xaira and its investors are committed to playing the long game. Developing new drugs and leveraging AI require substantial investments, both in terms of capital and expertise. Xaira aims to establish itself as a powerhouse in AI drug discovery, which requires a significant financial commitment.

Interestingly, Xaira’s decision to appoint Marc Tessier-Lavigne as CEO has raised some eyebrows. Tessier-Lavigne resigned from his position as Stanford president last year amid reports of manipulated research data in his laboratory at Genentech, where he previously served as chief scientific officer. It’s important to note that Tessier-Lavigne himself was not accused of any data manipulation and denied any knowledge of falsified research being published from the labs he oversaw. Investors, however, have expressed confidence in his integrity and scientific vision, with ARCH Venture Partners managing director Bob Nelsen stating that Stanford had exonerated Tessier-Lavigne of any wrongdoing or scientific misconduct.

In conclusion, generative AI holds immense promise in the field of drug discovery. Xaira Therapeutics, with its recent funding and team of experts, is well-positioned to make significant strides in this space. The challenges of data scarcity in biology and medicine present unique obstacles, but ongoing advancements in AI and the commitment of investors indicate a bright future for AI-driven drug design. With time, we can expect to see groundbreaking advancements in the development of new drugs that have the potential to revolutionize healthcare and improve patient outcomes.

Source link

Leave a Comment