Vancouver, B.C.-based Gandeeva Therapeutics, a precision medicine company leveraging cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM) with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to view protein-drug interaction at the atomic level has raised $40 million in Series A funding led by Lux Capital and Leaps by Bayer. Other investors include Obvious Ventures, Amgen Ventures, Amplitude Ventures, and Air Street Capital.
The company’s proprietary technology can discern the folding patterns of proteins at high-resolution and protein interaction with prospective drugs at the atomic level using a unique combination of cryo-EM to capture images of proteins with the image recognition power of AI and machine learning analysis to inform drug development.
“For decades, we have known that understanding the language by which proteins are folded and function in the native context of the cell is fundamental to deciphering biology. Altered protein function is implicated in nearly every disease,” said Sriram Subramaniam, founder and CEO, Gandeeva Therapeutics. “Gandeeva endeavors to unlock these mysteries by moving beyond recent developments in cryo-EM technology and in AI-driven approaches to structural biology by integrating these technologies in its pioneering platform. I’m thrilled to be leading an interdisciplinary and diverse team of biologists, chemists, microscopists and engineers to achieve this shared mission.”
Cryo-EM is an imaging technique that cools samples in an environment of vitreous water to cryogenic temperatures. In 2017, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry was awarded to Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson “for developing cryo-electron microscopy for the high-resolution structure determination of biomolecules in solution.” As the technology has improved in the past few years, both in the detectors used and in algorithms to analyze the images, cryo-EM has begun to emerge as a potentially more powerful and faster imaging tool than those currently used to view individual molecules such as X-Ray crystallography.
“The combination of cryo-EM and AI is unlocking and democratizing atomic resolution at scale, and Gandeeva’s platform and team sits squarely at the interface of these two technologies,” said Adam Goulburn, partner at lead investor Lux Capital. “By digitizing and automating cryo-EM imaging, Gandeeva is leading the transformation of structural biology-led drug discovery.”
Gandeeva was founded by Subramaniam, a professor in precision cancer drug design at the University of British Columbia and a leader in structural biology and the continued development of cryo-EM.
Subramaniam was the first person to demonstrate atomic resolution cryo-EM of proteins, first to demonstrate atomic resolution small molecule drug mapping, and first to demonstrate the use of cryo-EM in precision medicine with structure of a drug bound to a patient mutant in cancer. His lab was also the first to produce an atomic-level snapshot of the spike protein in the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, published recently in Science. All this work has shown the high potential of using cryo-EM as a structural biology research and drug discovery tool.
“We are excited about Gandeeva’s platform and its potential to combine prediction and experimentation to optimize drug design by visualizing protein-drug interactions and analyzing at the level of atoms, with unprecedented speed,” noted Jürgen Eckhardt, head of the other lead investor Leaps by Bayer. “Gandeeva’s focus on applying their powerful technologies to dramatically improve drug development is aligned with our ambition to transform health with data, enabling breakthroughs in precision medicine and beyond.”