Flagship Pioneering recently launched its latest company, Valo Health, which has a drug-discovery technology platform.
Valo’s Opal Computational Platform uses machine learning, cloud computing and real-world data to assist in the drug-discovery and development process. It is currently focusing on treatments for cardiovascular diseases, neurodegeneration and cancer.
The platform works by first identifying drug candidates for a certain disease. From there, it evaluates both new and known molecules to estimate how they will react within the body while predicting which patients will see the best results. Additionally, Opal can design the clinical trials needed to test its hypotheses.
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“At the core of Valo’s approach is a recognition that human-centric data coupled with leading-edge compute can enable a transformation in how drugs are created, reducing cost and time, while increasing confidence,” said David Berry in a statement, the Valo Health CEO and a general partner at Flagship Pioneering.
The company was originally founded in 2019 and has since raised almost $100 million from Flagship Pioneering and other investors.
During its first year, Valo acquired Numerate and FORMA Therapeutics to help grow its team and build upon its drug-discovery strategy.
WHY THIS MATTERS
By digitizing and applying big-data techniques to pharmaceutical research and development, $100 billion of value could be annually generated across the U.S. healthcare system, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.
This is possible, according to the institute, because these strategies optimize innovation, improve the efficiency of research and clinical trials, and build new tools for more individualized approaches.
THE LARGER TREND
Following McKinsey’s prediction, and with the COVID-19 pandemic pushing digitization forward, technology-enabled R&D companies continue to raise massive amounts of capital.
Earlier this week, XtalPi – which combines artificial intelligence, quantum physics and data for its platform – raised nearly $319 million in a Series C funding round. Atomwise brought in $123 million earlier this summer, which was preceded by companies insitro and Exscientia, which scored $143 million and $60 million, respectively, from investors.
Big names in pharma are also embracing the move to digital, with Novartis working with Microsoft and Bayer beginning a partnership with Exscientia.
ON THE RECORD
“New biological and chemical experimental platforms and the application of advanced computing to integrate human data can shave years off drug development and improve the likelihood of success” said Dr. Noubar Afeyan, founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, in a statement.
“In a pharmaceutical industry where failure is too often the rule, our goal with Valo is to change how drugs are developed and to bring more predictive confidence to clinical trial design and execution.”