Harvard spin-out Nabla Bio scores $ 11 million to integrate AI technology into antibody design


Software is the key to the discovery of therapeutic antibodies today. The founders of Nabla Bio say the next generation of antibodies will be engineered rather than discovered, and those designs will be assisted by artificial intelligence. The Harvard University spin-out has raised $ 11 million to further develop its tech platform.

Nabla’s seed funding announced on Monday was co-led by Khosla Ventures and Zetta Venture Partners.

According to Boston-based Nabla, current approaches to antibody drug research are expensive and time consuming. The startup has developed technology that uses AI to guide the modeling and design of proteins. Nabla said her high-throughput technology generates a predictive “biophysical fingerprint” for 1 million antibodies in a single step. This ability is combined with proprietary approaches that adapt natural language processing algorithms, like those used in digital assistants such as Alexa and Siri, to understand how nature builds proteins. In addition to reducing the time and cost of antibody development, the approach also helps scientists improve the way they design proteins, which in turn increases the chances of those proteins becoming effective drugs.

“The design of therapeutic antibodies is not just about binding to targets, and insufficient protein engineering is believed to be responsible for a large part of the interruptions and failures of clinical trials, especially for products. Large molecule biologics that will play an increasingly important role in the clinic, ”Khosla Ventures partner Alex Morgan said in a prepared statement. “As therapeutics become more complex with more functional areas, the role of AI in development will become critical. “

Nabla The technology was developed by co-founder and CEO Surge Biswas, who was a student in the laboratory of famous Harvard geneticist George Church, co-founder of the startup academic. The company was created last year, according to the archives of the Massachusetts company. According Dylan Reid, director of Zetta Venture Partners, the startup has five collaborations with major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies anonymous. Nabla is based in Harvard Pagliuca Life Lab, a wet laboratory and a co-working space for startups affiliated life sciences at Harvard.

Nabla said she would use her new capital to accelerate the development of her technology. Other participants disclosed in the company’s seed funding were Fifty Years and Cantos Ventures.

The field of antibody research is expanding as more and more antibody-based drugs come onto the market, some of them becoming blockbusters. Companies that support antibody discovery work have also grown. Actors in this space include AbCellera Biologics and Adimab. Ligand Therapeutics is in the antibody discovery space with its Omniab division. Last month, Ligand announced plans to turn this antibody business into a separate, potentially publicly traded company. In a company presentation in September, Ligand said the current market for antibody-based drugs, worth $ 150 billion, is expected to reach more than $ 250 billion in five years.

Photo: Kelvin Ma / Bloomberg via Getty Images

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