Envisagenics closes $2.35M seed round and launches SpliceCore Platform for identifying RNA targets from splicing errors

Envisagenics, Inc., a biotechnology company that applies Artificial Intelligence to the genetic sequence of patients to discover new therapies, announced today that is has raised $2.35M in its seed round. The investors include Third Kind Venture Capital (3KVC), Cosine, LLC (NYC biotech investors), Dolby Family Ventures, Dynamk Capital, NY Empire State Development (ESD), and SV Angels.

Envisagenics’ proprietary discovery platform, SpliceCoreTM, can identify new ribonucleic acid (RNA) targets and design new drugs to correct RNA splicing errors in cancer and genetic diseases. Envisagenics launched their commercial product, SpliceCore, at Unboxing on October 19, 2017, featuring pitches and demos from Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs portfolio companies and has been invited to demo the platform at the Technology for Precision Health Summit on December 12, 2017.

Envisagenics is one of the first life science companies selected to receive investment from the New York State Innovation Venture Capital Fund administered by Empire State Development, a $100M fund established in 2014 to promote commercialization of new technologies and drive economic growth.

Leading Envisagenics seed round, is an impressive group of women investors, namely Daniella Kranjac, co-founder and managing director of Dynamk Capital, Shana Fisher, founder of 3KVC; and Gillian Sandler, of Cosine, LLC. They join Lindy Fishburne, Hemai Parthasarathy, and Julia Moore, who manage Peter Thiel’s Breakout Labs.

“It is great to have the support of established female investors with the experience to scale companies and accelerate drug discovery. It’s exciting to be part of changing the landscape of venture investments in female founders” said Dr. Maria Luisa Pineda, co-founder and CEO of Envisagenics. Daniella Kranjac, co-founder and managing director of Dynamk Capital, who led the seed round of Envisagenics said, “Envisagenics is disrupting traditional drug discovery through applied machine learning and AI.  We are excited to see the commercialization of SpliceCore enable biopharma leaders to accelerate critical discovery efforts for life-saving therapeutics.”

Envisagenics SpliceCore is a cloud-based platform that uses machine learning to prioritize new drug target candidates from patients’ RNA, our genetic blueprint. Envisagenics focuses on RNA splicing, a cellular process occurring in every cell, that ‘edits’ RNA to produce functional proteins required for our body to work.

Errors in this process can cause devastating diseases: at least 370 genetic diseases identified to date can be caused by splicing errors, such as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, a neurodegenerative disease that kills more children than any other genetic disease. “Discovering RNA splicing errors and learning how to fix them at the same time is a fantastic problem to solve with AI” says Dr. Martin Akerman, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Envisagenics. “Once you find a disease-causing splicing error with SpliceCore, you are halfway to finding an RNA-therapeutic drug that acts directly on the RNA.” The SpliceCore technology was developed by Envisagenics’ CTO while at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in the Laboratories of Dr. Michael Q. Zhang, a leading scientist in genomic research and with Dr. Adrian Krainer, a leader in the RNA splicing field who was also an inventor of the FDA-approved Spinraza (Nusinersen) for the treatment of Spinal Muscular Atrophy.

Envisagenics is supported by an outstanding Scientific Advisory Board composed of the world leading experts in the fields of computational biology and RNA research which include Dr. Adrian Krainer, the St. Giles Foundation Professor of Molecular Genetics at CSHL, Program Chair of Cancer & Molecular Biology, and Research Faculty Member of the Watson School of Biological Sciences; Dr. Michael Q. Zhang,  Director of the Center for Systems Biology and Cecil H. and Ida Green Distinguished Chair of Systems Biology Science at the University of Texas at Dallas; and Michael Schatz, PhD, Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University. The company has also developed collaborations with top research universities in New York City to drive continued development of its technology. Envisagenics has previously been funded by Accelerate LI, the Long Island Emerging Technologies Fund, Breakout Labs by the Thiel Foundation, and is a recipient of a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The seed funding and financial support from Breakout Labs, Envisagenics has grown to a team of eight and has gained traction among biopharmaceutical companies because Envisagenics technology is unlocking a world of possibilities using RNA-seq data and AI as a vehicle for drug discovery.

Source – Envisagenics 

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