AI player twoXAR teams up with 1ST Biotherapeutics on glioblastoma

twoXAR financing round image
Left to right: Reda Dehy, JP Lee, Andrew A. Radin, Andrew M. Radin and Greg Moon (twoXAR & SoftBank Ventures)

TwoXAR and South Korea’s 1ST Biotherapeutics are joining forces to discover and develop new treatments for glioblastoma, the most aggressive kind of brain cancer. Under the deal, twoXAR will identify drug candidates using its artificial intelligence platform, both partners will select promising candidates and 1ST Bio will develop them. 

The new deal is twoXAR’s third since the Mountain View, California-based company raised $10 million in March 2018 to build a portfolio of drug programs via biopharma partnerships. Specifically, twoXAR will use its AI platform to pick out drug candidates that could potentially slow, stop or reverse the progression of glioblastoma. After the partners test selected candidates in preclinical efficacy models, 1ST Bio will optimize candidates and take them forward. 

“1ST Biotherapeutics is focused on efficiently building a pipeline of first-in-class therapeutic candidates with high likelihood of clinical success,” said Jamie Jae Eun Kim, CEO of 1ST Biotherapeutics, in a statement. “The twoXAR team has a track record of rapidly identifying testable novel treatments that can lead to first-in-class therapeutics. This collaboration is an opportunity to combine twoXAR’s AI-driven drug discovery approach and the 1ST Biotherapeutics team’s expertise in chemistry and pharmacology to discover and develop effective molecular therapeutics for glioblastoma patients.” 

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Efficiency is the name of the game for twoXAR, said Andrew M. Radin, the company’s chief marketing officer and co-founder, not to be confused with twoXAR CEO Andrew A. Radin. The company is using AI to speed up drug discovery and identify drugs that have the “highest probability to move forward into clinical trials and are most likely to benefit patients.” It does so by crunching data to make those predictions. 

“We focus on incorporating every possible bit of data we can get our hands on for that disease to come up with statistical predictions on which drug candidates will be efficient in treating that disease,” Radin said. “At that very early stage [of discovery], we are indifferent to how it treats the disease or why it treats the disease.  We want to quickly, affordably and accurately discover that and use it as a starting point to launch a new program.”

Right now, the quickest way to get programs up and running is through partnerships, Radin said. In addition to its partnership with 1ST Bio, twoXar has one with KemPharm to develop prodrug-based therapies and one with Adynxx to develop drugs for endometriosis. While each of these deals is, in effect, a licensing deal with milestones and royalties, this doesn’t mean twoXAR won’t look to create an in-house pipeline as well. 

“Our focus is discovery,” Radin said, so the plan is to “build up many partnerships and many candidates and maybe years down the line, we can move further downstream.”

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