Digital biology company Recursion Pharmaceuticals has secured an oversubscribed $239 million in Series D equity financing to further develop its drug discovery platform and pipeline.
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“We are a biotech company, but built like a technology company to leverage elements such as computation, machine learning and artificial intelligence to discover new medicine better, faster and cheaper,” Chris Gibson, co-founder and CEO, told Crunchbase News.
Leaps by Bayer led the investment with participation from new investors including Casdin Capital, Catalio Capital Management, Laurion Capital Management and Samsara BioCapital, as well as a group of 10 of the company’s existing investors.
Salt Lake City-based Recursion, founded in 2013, started out in drug discovery for rare diseases, such as neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue.
The company continues to work on those types of medicines in its internal pipeline and is partnering with Bayer to to identify and develop novel treatments for fibrotic diseases of the lung, kidney, heart and other organs. Fibrosis, which happens to tissue and is similar to the process of scarring, affects hundreds of millions of people around the world, Gibson said.
The company has 30 drug programs internally and now has four drug candidates in clinical trials. Last year it had two.
Gibson expects to use the new funding to advance those programs through clinical trials, grow the company’s team, build its machines, and fulfill its partnership with Bayer.
“People are starting to see the multidecade bet and see the tangible, concrete evidence that we are building something useful,” he added. “Our goal is to take all four into mid- or later-stage clinical trials next year. Some of those will include pivotal trials, and if the FDA finds those successful, that could be the final trial before it enters the market.”
Recursion has 175 employees currently and another 50 open positions to support the Bayer partnership, including in chemistry and clinical development areas.
As part of its agreement with Bayer, the two organizations can work on more than 10 fibrosis programs where possible development and commercial milestone payments could yield more than $100 million per program plus royalties on future sales for Recursion, which will receive an upfront payment of $30 million in addition to the $50 million lead equity investment.
“We are excited to try and tackle this work,” Gibson said. “It is an unprecedented opportunity.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias