Unnatural Products Secures $32M to Advance Drug Development with AI-Enhanced Macrocycles

by Andrii Buvailo, PhD          News

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Santa Cruz-based biotech company, Unnatural Products, Inc. (UNP), has recently secured a significant investment of $32 million in its Series A funding round. This round was led by Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (MGHIF) and TechBio-focused ARTIS Ventures. The company, known for integrating artificial intelligence (AI) with chemistry, aims to revolutionize the field of molecularly targeted therapeutics.

Other contributors to this funding round include First Spark Ventures, The Venture Collective, Humain Ventures, LongeVC, and Not Boring Capital, along with continued support from existing investors. These funds are earmarked for the advancement of UNP's innovative technology platform, with an expanded focus beyond oncology to explore new therapeutic opportunities.

 

The Role of Macrocycles in Modern Medicine

Macrocycles and cyclic peptides are emerging as powerful tools in expanding the druggable genome. These larger molecules, often derived from natural sources, have been instrumental in medicine for various indications. Their size and drug-like properties enable them to target complex intracellular structures, achieving the efficacy of antibodies in a more convenient oral dosage form.

UNP is at the forefront of exploiting this potential. The company utilizes a unique parallel chemistry and AI-driven platform. This approach designs synthetic macrocycles, combining the effectiveness of naturally evolved macrocycles with enhanced drug-likeness. This method opens doors to targeting molecules previously inaccessible to conventional drug development approaches.

Cameron Pye, CEO and Co-Founder of UNP, expressed enthusiasm for the support received from MGHIF, ARTIS Ventures, and other investors. Pye likened the current state of macrocycle development to the early days of antibody therapeutics, emphasizing the potential for significant impact on the pharmaceutical industry.

Investors have shown a strong belief in UNP's vision and technology. Prem Tumkosit of MGHIF highlighted the fund's focus on partnering with technologies that can profoundly affect patient care. MGHIF invests in innovative drug development solutions to address key technical challenges and improve patient outcomes.

Vasudev Bailey, PhD, Managing Partner at ARTIS Ventures, commented on the unique advantage of macrocycles, which combine the potency of peptides with the convenience of oral small molecules. Bailey emphasized ARTIS Ventures' confidence in UNP's approach to significantly impact drug development for various conditions.

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