An AI biotech emerges from stealth promising drugs 'on demand.' What will that look like, and is it even possible? – Endpoints News

The newest AI and machine learning biotech launched Tuesday morning, and it’s promising some big things. But can the company deliver?
Creyon Bio emerged from stealth with $40 million in seed and Series A financing, the company said, with the goal of delivering precision medicines “on demand” once its platform is fully realized. The biotech wants to focus on both rare and common diseases, though it’s not specifying which ones, and develop oligonucleotide-based medicines that can work with any modality, be it antisense, siRNA or DNA and RNA editing.
Touting a platform that has “unprecedented efficiency,” Creyon is venturing into a territory of considerable hype and bombast, similar to its AI predecessors. It’s part of a phenomenon drawing increased scrutiny as the first generation of AI biotechs reaches the clinic, and as some in the space are pushing back on the idea that drugs can be created at the push of a button.
Asked if Creyon is attempting to do just that, CEO Chris Hart demurred and likened the biotech’s goals to knee replacement surgery. Individuals who need new knees are able to go to their doctor, receive a CT scan and have their joint engineered specifically for them.
“But if you take and you flip that and say, ‘What about genetic medicine?’ We can certainly sequence the whole genome in an analogous way that we can CT scan a knee and we can even understand from that genetic information,” Hart said. “But currently, there’s no way to engineer a medicine responsive to that information.”
Hart added the Creyon platform will be able to develop drugs with the same “accuracy and assurance” available to patients who need their knees replaced.
But there are vast differences between an elective surgery and a potentially lifesaving drug. Perhaps most importantly, the regulatory process is much more intensive for drug developers than implant device makers, as certain joint implants — metal-on-metal hip replacement in particular — did not require FDA approval until 2013.
Creyon, though, is working on “eroding” the time it takes to get from the lab to the clinic, Hart said, claiming its platform could eventually allow it to go straight into Phase I studies.
“The reason we do preclinical studies, and then we do all the safety testing before we go into Phase I trial, is because there’s significant risks that we don’t want to expose people to,” Hart said. “But if we build a platform where we can engineer safe and effective compounds, and there is no risk,” Creyon could jump straight to the clinic by doing “the right studies.”
Whether or not that will be realized remains an open question and hotly debated topic. Not even the earliest AI biotechs have been able to skip their preclinical testing, with companies like Exscientia and Recursion — founded in 2012 and 2013, respectively — only starting human testing within the last couple years.
To try to accomplish this feat, Creyon is doubling down on data. Founded in 2019, the biotech has spent the last few years building out its in-house datasets and training its machine learning models, CSO Swagatam Mukhopadhyay said. The company’s process is different from others because it’s trying to juggle so many different diseases and modalities at once, he added.
“It’s a complete new look coming from foundational principles of the molecules to the function that we can be modeling, enabling us far better control, and further understanding of engineering principles,” Mukhopadhyay said.
Tuesday’s round was led by DCVC Bio and Lux Capital. Other investors include Casdin Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments and BioBrit.
Biogen CEO Michel Vounatsos is betting on success. But he’s keeping one hand firmly on the budget axe in case the cards stay cold. And he’s ready to chop as hard as necessary to keep the bottom line in shape.
In a fireside chat on Monday during the Cowen conference, Vounatsos repeatedly hit on the company’s campaign to overturn the punishing initial Medicare decision denying broad coverage of Aduhelm (aducanumab), insisting that Biogen can make a good case for access, promising both added clinical data as well as real world evidence. But unless things start to go its way — on Aduhelm and the upcoming lecanemab readout as well as the so-far commercially awkward zuranolone readout — the CEO stands ready to cut where he can’t add revenue.
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San Francisco-based Teon Therapeutics got itself a new CEO — in a transition from Big Pharma into the world of biotech.
But what sparked that transition isn’t so rosy. The catalyst for the change was when Serge Messerlian’s father passed away last year from renal cancer.
“You know, like those big events in life, people take the opportunity to pause and reflect — which I did,” Messerlian said to Endpoints News. “And I thought it was probably time for me to really get closer to something that I’m very passionate about, which is the science of the life science business. So, I came across Teon as an opportunity.”
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Amgen’s big, $1 billion investment in its manufacturing operations is officially underway, as the biotech broke ground on its Holly Springs, NC site Monday. The $550 million drug substance plant is one of two massive upgrades in the US for the California company, and it’s looking to capitalize on the region’s talented pool of potential employees.
Wake County and the Holly Springs local government awarded Amgen with job development grants worth $12.6 million and $22.8 million, respectively, contingent upon hiring milestones. Construction is scheduled to wrap up by 2029, though the plant will be operational in 2025. New hires will include engineers, technicians, quality, management and administrative staff. The average salary of the new positions added is expected to reach nearly $120,000, close to double what the current average is in Wake County. Another 350 jobs are expected to be added, upon the site’s completion.
Lundbeck debuted its first TV ad campaign for infused migraine medicine Vyepti – into an already crowded field. However, Vyepti is highlighting its unique IV delivery method that may help it stand out.
The Vyepti TV ad uses a visual effect that makes some of the people in the ad appear to be made of liquid – a 3D watery effect – that illustrates Vyepti’s liquid delivery. The watery characters are shown walking through an airport, running through the park, at work and going out to dinner as each one morphs to human form. Meanwhile, a voiceover talks about the IV treatment, highlighting its dosage – four times per year through 30-minute infusions.
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Roses are red, violets are blue, and so are most pharma company brands. Pfizer, Roche, AbbVie and Amgen are among the many pharma companies with logos in hues of blue, while a smaller band including Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline reside in the red and orange zone.
More recently though, a handful of pharma companies jumped on the “not-blue” bandwagon – like Sanofi’s rebrand with purple and GSK’s Haleon spinoff with green – so we decided to talk to color experts about pharma and healthcare brands. What do different colors mean in the industry and why does it matter?
First unveiled at the State of the Union, the Biden administration on Tuesday officially launched its “Test to Treat” initiative that aims to make more free Covid-19 pills from Pfizer and Merck readily available across the country.
Participating pharmacy chains (although Biden stopped short of allowing pharmacists to prescribe the pills) can test someone (or people can test elsewhere), and if positive for Covid-19, the site can simultaneously provide one of the two antivirals in the same visit.
French VC Kurma has been investing into several companies recently, such as ARMGO Pharma and Emergence Therapeutics. With its new biotech and healthtech-focused fund, the VC is now looking to expand its offerings in possibly its biggest fund to date.
The VC said this morning that the fund, dubbed the Growth Opportunities Fund, hit its first closing, securing just shy of $175 million from different investors. But the firm has a higher goal: €250 million, or $273 million.
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After spending two years proving its CRISPR and synthetic biology platforms could deliver powerful Covid-19 diagnostics, as well as shipping those test kits, Sherlock Biosciences is ready to return to — and turbocharge — its original mission.
The Boston-based company has raised $80 million to develop a range of new tests that can be done on two in-house devices that can be used in an at-home setting.
In an ideal scenario, Mytide Therapeutics co-founder Dale Thomas pictures his company’s tech in hospitals across America. On Tuesday, the company announced a $7 million Series A fundraising round that will help bring that goal a step closer to reality.
Mytide will use the money to advance its Gen2 platform, a portable peptide manufacturer that it says has the ability to produce natural and non-natural peptides about 30 times faster than the traditional manufacturing process. Thanks to its data collection process, Gen2 can help eliminate bottlenecks in the supply chain, which have become ever-present in the past two years amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
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