Big Data guru Atul Butte's NuMedii scores $3.5M VC round for 'digital' drug research

As drug development goes digital, NuMedii has rallied investors to support its computational approach of finding drug-disease matches from Big Data. With lead backer Claremont Creek Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners, the Palo Alto, CA-based startup has raised a Series A financing of $3.5 million.

While that amount might seem small for a first-round biotech funding, Numedii CEO Gini Deshpande says that its approach to drug research is "extremely capital efficient." Deshpande and her husband, Big Data guru Dr. Atul Butte, founded the company in 2008 based on Butte's work at Stanford on software for mining vast databases of pharmacological, disease and clinical data for novel drug-disease pairings.

The pioneering approach could give researchers a head start in drug research, which is notoriously expensive and time consuming. Like other drug-repurposing methods, NuMedii's technology could shave significant time from traditional development cycles, and the company has preclinical data from 6 drug-disease matches that confirm its predictive powers.

The first-round financing is expected to back work on three programs from the company in preparation for clinical development. Last year the specialty drugs outfit Aptalis Pharma signed on with NuMedii for a collaboration focused on gastrointestinal disease and cystic fibrosis. The startup aims to find development partners for its proprietary programs too, according to its release.

"NuMedii is pioneering "digital" pharma development, which perfectly fits Claremont Creek Ventures' focus on investing in early stage companies that are revolutionizing medicine with genetics, data mining and computation," stated Claremont's Ted Driscoll, who is joining the board of directors of NuMedii as chairman through the financing.

NuMedii has attracted some heavy hitters as advisers over the years, including biotech vet Corey Goodman and Eric Schadt, a champion of open science and network biology.  

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- here's the release