AI-Based Drug Discoverer Verge Genomics Raises $32M in Series A Financing

July 16, 2018
AI-Based Drug Discoverer Verge Genomics Raises $32M in Series A Financing
Verge Genomics has raised $32 million in Series A financing toward further development of new treatments by combining machine learning and neuroscience with experimental biology. [Source: kentoh/Getty Images]

Verge Genomics said today it has raised $32 million in Series A financing toward further development of new treatments by combining machine learning and neuroscience with experimental biology.

Venture capital firm DFJ led the financing, which also attracted new biotech investors that included WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund, as well as the ALS Investment Fund, Agent Capital, and OS Fund.

“This funding will allow us to advance our most promising drug candidates towards the clinic while continuing to expand our proprietary datasets and therapeutic portfolio,” Alice Zhang, co-founder and CEO of Verge Genomics, said in a statement. By vertically integrating machine learning and drug development capabilities under one roof, we have been able to quickly identify dozens of promising new therapeutic opportunities for devastating diseases such as ALS and Parkinson’s Disease.”

Verge aims to develop new treatments through a platform that is designed for neurological diseases, and which can analyze thousands of datasets to identify new targets, predict effective drugs, and stratify patient subpopulations. The company says its technology can map out the hundreds of genes that cause a disease, then find drugs that target all the genes at once.

Verge has also created proprietary datasets that according to the company are one of the largest and most comprehensive databases of ALS and Parkinson’s Disease patient genomic data, developed through partnerships with a dozen top-tier academic and government organizations.

“Verge has built one of the most comprehensive datasets that we have worked with for disease understanding, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Importantly, Verge’s integrated approach to drug development aligns patient data with animal models to ensure the use of appropriate translational research,” stated Edward Hu, CFO and Chief Investment Officer of WuXi AppTec. “With our investment in Verge, we continue to strategically build multiple relationships in the area of artificial intelligence and machine learning applying to drug discovery.”

In the most recently-disclosed collaboration, announced May 21, Verge is leading a consortium that includes the University of California, San Diego, and the Belgian life sciences research institute VIB to sequence genes expressed in the brains of Parkinson's patients at a single cell resolution, generating what the company said will be the first dataset of its kind in the field.

Verge said the Series A brings its total funding raised to more than $36 million since the company was founded in 2015 as a spinout of the Y Combinator accelerator. The company has grown to 14 people, including 10 Ph.D.s with expertise in machine learning, neuroscience, drug development, applied math, biophysics, and statistics.

“The substantial increase in data volumes combined with the application of machine learning tools has the potential to transform drug discovery and development,” added Emily Melton, a partner at DFJ, who will join Verge’s Board of Directors.