Xaira Therapeutics Launches with Over $1 Billion to Enhance Drug R&D Using AI

by Andrii Buvailo, PhD          News

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As first reported by Endpoints News, Xaira Therapeutics has emerged as one of the most significantly funded new entrants in the biotech sector, supported by a consortium of venture capitalists and eminent scientists.

The startup has announced its mission to transform drug research and development (R&D) through the integration of artificial intelligence (AI). Marc Tessier-Lavigne, a former president of Stanford University and chief scientific officer at Genentech, has been appointed as CEO of Xaira.

Tessier-Lavigne highlighted the potential of AI to incrementally improve the drug discovery process, which is traditionally marked by high failure rates. Current statistics suggest that only about 10% of drugs that enter human trials are eventually approved, with many failing in the earlier stages.

Xaira aims to employ new generative AI techniques capable of designing novel molecules and identifying new therapeutic targets, potentially reducing the time and increasing the success rates of drug development.

The startup has incorporated technology developed at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design under the leadership of David Baker, a co-founder of Xaira.

This technology focuses on de novo antibody generation, a method that uses AI to design new proteins. Despite skepticism from some in the scientific community regarding the current maturity of this technology for therapeutic applications, Xaira’s leadership is optimistic about its readiness and future potential.

The company has gathered a robust team, with approximately 50 employees across sites in Seattle and California. Co-founders include prominent figures from the biotech investment community, such as Bob Nelsen of ARCH Venture Partners and Vik Bajaj of Foresite Labs. Additional support comes from a variety of investors, including F-Prime Capital, NEA, and Sequoia Capital.

Xaira’s strategic direction also includes contributions from a notable executive team and board members like former FDA head Scott Gottlieb, Nobel laureate Carolyn Bertozzi, and former Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky.

Their collective expertise spans the regulatory, scientific, and corporate arenas, providing a comprehensive support structure for the company’s goals.

The startup is not only focusing on AI-driven drug discovery but also aims to revolutionize the entire drug development pipeline, from discovering new biology and designing molecules to running clinical trials. This holistic approach intends to address the inefficiencies of an industry plagued by low success rates.

By leveraging AI, Xaira hopes to uncover new biological insights, streamline the design of therapeutic molecules, and optimize clinical trial processes.

In addition to Xaira, other AI biotechs like Alphabet’s Isomorphic Labs and Flagship Pioneering’s Generate:Biomedicines are exploring similar paths in drug discovery, with large funding at their disposal.

These companies are advancing their AI models to predict protein structures and generate new proteins, underscoring the growing trend of employing computational methods to innovate within biopharmaceutical research.

Topics: Biotech Companies   

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