Engine Biosciences has headquarters in both Singapore and San Francisco, so it’s appropriate that the promising biotech company tapped into Asian and American markets to attain $10 million in seed funding, the largest sum recorded to date for a Southeast Asian life sciences company. Only two Southeast Asian companies in any category have netted larger seed round funding.
Silicon Valley-based Danhua Capital and 6 Dimensions Capital led the group of eight investing firms, which also included Baidu Ventures. Engine has said that it plans to invest the funds into its furthering its drug discovery platform, which is the crux of what the company does. By combining machine learning and the mapping of genomes, the company seeks to discover drug therapies that can cure or alleviate rare conditions at a more rapid clip.
The founding Engine team, which is comprised of two MIT researchers, a Mayo Clinic assistant professor, and a UC-San Diego assistant professor, also plans on expanding its executive footprint both in Asia and the United States and beginning pre-clinical studies. They are currently partnered with an ‘unnamed Fortune 500 company’ and various, anonymous research institutions stateside.
Because diseases are often masked by the massive number of biological processes that work or don’t work together to cause them, it’s Engine Biosciences’ – as well as their investors’ – belief that machine learning can help reduce the cost and time currently required to discovery therapy. Testing the genetic interactions of an afflicted person in a parallel manner and applying the data into deep machine learning algorithms, it is thought that testing redundancy will be largely eliminated while the speed and scale of diagnosing and curing rare genetic disorders will be greatly enhanced.
The biopharmaceutical industry needs better approaches for R&D to deliver therapies to patients in need faster, Engine Biosciences and co-founder Jeffrey Lu said. Engine's data-driven platform allows researchers to uncover the critical gene interactions underlying diseases and also test therapies that specifically target these interactions in a faster, cheaper and more precise fashion than currently possible.