New Atomwise offshoot X-37 raises $14.5M to shepherd AI-designed drugs

Molecule prospector Atomwise co-founded a drug research company alongside Velocity Pharmaceutical Development designed to shepherd its artificial intelligence-derived candidates through preclinical testing and into potential takeout deals with pharma industry partners.

Dubbed X-37, the new firm will maintain a flexible LLC structure that will house each development program within its own virtual subcompany. This will allow X-37 to divest individual properties in the future while maintaining its parent organization and team, the company said.

And to kick things off, X-37 is debuting with a $14.5 million series A round to fund operations and early development, starting in autoimmune diseases, cancer and anticoagulation. It began research work in 2018 and aims to have novel candidates ready to begin human testing by 2022.

"We are thrilled with the progress we have made to date and we are looking forward to moving a set of important new drugs into development,” X-37 CEO and co-founder David Collier said in a statement.

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“With this financing, we have the ability to progress multiple discovery and development programs,” Collier said. “Our investors have been a huge help in the genesis of X-37, and we look forward to working closely with them going forward.” The series A round was led by DCVC Bio, alongside participation from Alpha Intelligence Capital and Hemi Ventures.

In addition to targets such as ZAP-70 in autoimmune disease, PIM3 and SHP2 in cancer and coagulation factor XIIa, X-37 will use Atomwise’s AI platform to design and develop other drug leads and targets with the goal of bringing them to a point where they can be acquired or partnered with a pharma company for the remainder of their development and commercialization.

"X-37 represents an opportunity to bring new drugs to market very quickly, for challenging targets that have repeatedly stumped pharma and are in dire need of advancement,” said Atomwise founder and CEO Abraham Heifets.

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“We identified the team of drug developers at Velocity Pharmaceutical Development as ideal partners for Atomwise because of their experience in target selection and development of drug leads beyond the initial discovery stage,” said Kiersten Stead of DCVC Bio, who joins X-37’s board. “The progress of the combined teams at X-37 has been superb.”