Valo Health launched in September with $100 million and a couple of acquisitions under its belt to transform drug development and trim years off R&D timelines. Now, it’s topping up its coffers with $110 million from Koch Disruptive Technologies that will bankroll the development of its technology as well as the discovery and development of its drug programs.
In January, the company raised $190 million in the first close of its series B round from The Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments), Flagship Pioneering, Invus Public Equities, HBM Healthcare Investments, Atinum Investment and Mirae Asset Capital. At the time, Valo also unveiled the first four preclinical programs it’s working on: cancer treatments targeting PARP1, NAMPT, USP28 and HDAC3.
“We think about our programs as best-in-class or first-in-class programs,” said Valo CEO David Berry. “The beauty of best in class is that we can build off of the experience, the proof points, the successes of others. It allows one to take an approach and try to bring to bear a new opportunity in a drug class or extend that class in a new direction.”
Its PARP1 program is one example of this best-in-class approach. PARP inhibitors, such as AstraZeneca and Merck's Lynparza and Zejula from GlaxoSmithKline's Tesaro, have seen success in breast and ovarian cancers, but they’re “peripherally restricted, so they go around the body, but don’t get in the brain," Berry said. That stops them from being effectively used to treat cancers that spread to the brain as well as cancers that start in the brain.
“Given the success of PARP inhibitors, we wanted to be able to extend that to central tumors, whether primary or metastatic,” he said.
Valo used its Opal Computational Platform, an end-to-end drug discovery and development platform, to create a PARP inhibitor that could cross the blood-brain barrier without sacrificing efficacy and target PARP1 specifically rather than both PARP1 and PARP2.
“It sounds like a subtle change, but each would be a large-scale medicinal chemistry optimization,” Berry said. But with its technology, which combines vast amounts of human data and machine learning computation, the company went from an idea to making molecules and testing them in a matter of months, he said.
The Opal technology actively learns as the company develops its programs, so the company isn't just advancing new medicines but also improving its discovery and development engine at the same time, Berry said.
Valo, formerly known as Integral Health, launched after acquiring Forma Therapeutics’ hit discovery capabilities for $2.5 million upfront, $17.5 million in installments and $10 million in equity. It had also acquired Numerate, which gave Valo the engineers who created a platform with more than 30,000 models and 70 trillion molecules.