Deep learning biotech Evozyne has closed a Series B investment round worth $81m to advance its generative artificial intelligence (AI)-driven drug development.

OrbiMed and Fidelity Management & Research Company led the round, with the investment companies joining previous investors Paragon Biosciences and Valor Equity Partner. NVIDIA, a company considered a leader in generative AI software development, also participated through its venture capital arm NVentures.

Founded in 2020, Evozyne states that its algorithms simulate millions of years of evolution in proteins more efficiently than traditional methods that hone in on local sequences. The company states its platform allows an exploration of changes that could occur throughout the whole protein, which facilitates the identification of a diverse set of possible proteins.  

NVIDIA gave Evozyne an additional helping hand earlier this year, providing a pre-trained AI to expedite the biotech startup’s model training. NVIDIA presented the post-collaborative AI model, which it says could generate high-quality synthetic proteins, at the 2023 J P Morgan Healthcare Conference.

Throughout the biopharmaceutical industry, generative AI is being touted as a transformer of the drug discovery process. Automating the process of identifying new candidates is expected to reduce costs and the time to market for new drugs, as well as improve success rates.

The interest in generative AI was exemplified with Genesis Therapeutics’ Series B round, which caught the industry’s attention when it closed for $200m in August 2023. NVIDIA also participated in that round through its venture arm. Big Pharma has also made moves in this space, with Eli Lily already using Genesis’s AI drug discovery platform.

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Earlier this year, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) issued a draft paper conveying its thoughts on the use of AI in a medicine’s lifecycle in the face of an upsurge of automation activity. The agency, whilst appreciating the technology’s evident benefits, reminded companies to be wary of limitations including bias and overfitting. It added that those using AI should be transparent with regulators and operate within a “risk-based approach”.

In April 2022, Evozyne entered a strategic research collaboration and licence agreement with Takeda for gene therapy engineering. For the startup, it is now full steam ahead with the creation of a portfolio.

Evozyne CEO Mike Gamson said in a statement: “Our next three years will be tightly focused on maximising our generative AI platform for drug development and carbon capture while we develop a portfolio of gene editors and enzymes that modulate an immune response.”