Bill Gates backs fledgling computational drug discovery upstart

Bill Gates has invested a small part of his personal fortune and professional reputation in a Cambridge, MA-based startup that is promising to use cutting-edge computational technology to identify new drugs for difficult targets. Gates and Dr. Richard Friesner, the co-founder of Schrödinger and a chemistry professor at Columbia University, co-led the seed round with assistance from Atlas Venture, the founding investor in Nimbus.

The funds are being earmarked to advance Nimbus' lead programs in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, inflammatory disorders and metabolic disease. The fledgling biotech is targeting key proteins like IRAK4, a signaling kinase that becomes inappropriately activated in lymphoma and inflammation, and ACC, a metabolic enzyme that controls the synthesis and burning of fat. "While traditional chemistry approaches have failed to develop medicines for these targets, the Nimbus team has generated selective, potent and differentiated compounds within its first year," states the company release. "Over the next 12-18 months, Nimbus will refine clinical candidates for these targets and will expand its pipeline to include a new series of important targets." Nimbus is partnered with Schrödinger.

"I am excited to welcome Bill Gates and Richard Friesner as investors in Nimbus", said Dr. Bruce Booth, the co-founder of Nimbus and a partner at Atlas Venture. "Their investment recognizes the unique opportunity Nimbus has to leverage Schrödinger's 20-year technology investment with a virtually-integrated, globally distributed R&D approach."

- here's the Nimbus release