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San Mateo, Calif.-based BigHat Biosciences, a developer of safer antibody therapies leveraging machine learning and synthetic biology, announced today the closing of a $75 million Series B funding round led by venture capital firm Section 32. The new investment brings BigHat’s total raised to $100 million and the additional capital will be used to the capacity of Milliner the company’s AI-enabled antibody design platform. Funds will also be deployed to recruit drug discovery and development staff and to fuel future strategic collaborations.

“BigHat is ushering the next wave of personalized medicines with a sophisticated AI platform integrated with a next-generation lab that addresses the complexities and inefficiencies associated with biologics discovery,” said Steve Kafka, PhD, managing partner of Section 32 and newly-appointed BigHat board member in a press release. “Section 32 is delighted to support BigHat’s mission and their quest to rapidly deliver safer and more effective antibody therapies for people suffering from today’s most challenging diseases.”

The company, founded in 2019 by CEO Mark DePristo and CSO Peyton Greenside, uses machine learning models the designs of hundreds of antibody variants based on either antibodies designed in its discovery engine or those supplied by a partner. Using synthetic biology technology, these variants are then built and tested in the BigHat’s wet lab. It then collects data on these variants, including biophysical properties and impact on disease activity using cell-based or other functional assays that replicate in vivo disease processes. The new data is used to update the AI/ML models and the process is repeated, so that over multiple cycles, these models learn to create antibodies that match a design blueprint.

BigHat said that since its Series A round completed early in 2021, it has scaled capacity of its Milliner platform to be able to design, synthesize, and characterize more than four hundred antibodies weekly—a ten-fold increase. And in January, the company released information about the successful completion of the first phase of a previously unannounced antibody development collaboration with Amgen for a previously undisclosed research collaboration and licensing agreement to create a next-generation antibody.

Achieving that milestone triggered new work to create a lead panel of VHH antibodies for patients in need according to a company press release. “We are excited to show the power of our platform to rapidly improve biophysical characteristics and function by directing and learning from each cycle of our AI/ML-enabled experimental platform. We are looking forward to continuing our productive collaboration” said Peyton Greenside, BigHat’s CSO and co-founder.

Amgen Ventures is also a new investor in BigHat, participating in the current funding round along with Bristol Myers Squibb, Quadrille Capital, Gaingels, GRIDS Capital, among others.

”Completion of the first stage of Amgen’s research collaboration with BigHat demonstrated the ability of their platform to quickly and significantly optimize next-generation single-domain antibodies, validating the platform as a path to generating target binders with improved properties compared with the original repertoire identified by traditional technologies,” said Philip Tagari, VP of Research at Amgen.

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