Cambridge-based HealthTech firm Healx has secured €50.7m in a series B funding round.
The company had made its mission to improve the lives of rare disease patients, by utilising AI to accelerate the discovery and development of treatments.
Founded in 2014 by Dr David Brown and PhD biophysicist Dr Tim Guilliams after they came across the story of Matt Might, an American entrepreneur whose persistence resulted in his disabled, sick son being diagnosed with a completely new, rare disease.
It has now raised €50.7 million in a Series B financing round led by Atomico and joined by Intel Capital, Global Brain and btov Partners. Existing investors, including Balderton Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners, and Jonathan Milner also participated in the round.
The firm has developed an AI-based drug discovery platform for rare diseases, called Healnet.
It is claimed the technology can be used to move clinical trials for new treatments 80 per cent faster, 80-90 per cent cheaper and with a greater chance of success than conventional drug discovery methods.
Using Healnet, Healx are said to have already discovered potential treatments for diseases such as Fragile X syndrome, Pitt Hopkins, neuroblastoma and CDKL5 which were validated in preclinical testing.
In partnership with the FRAXA Research Foundation, Healx are set to start clinical trials for Fragile X – the leading genetic cause of autism – later this year.
“The size of this Series B financing, especially this quickly after our Series A round last year, is an endorsement of the value of our platform and the pace at which we have developed,” said Guilliams, CEO.
“It allows us to scale our impact with the launch of our Rare Treatment Accelerator programme and to progress into clinical trials,”
“To date, it’s been families and patient groups who have had to become experts in the diseases affecting their loved ones and have often been the ones driving forward the efforts into finding new treatments.
“With our unique combination of in-house R&D, industry collaborations and now the Rare Treatment Accelerator, we look forward to supporting these groups in their mission.”
Irina Haivas, principal at Atomico now board member of Healx following the investment, said the trial-and-error based model of drug discovery has gone unchanged in a century.
“And it especially fails rare disease patients. 50 per cent of these patients are children, many living with highly debilitating symptoms. Healx has shown that doesn’t have to be the case, by combining AI with world-class pharmacological expertise and putting patients first.
“We believe that the new paradigm in drug discovery will emerge at the intersection of technology, data, and biology, and we’re confident that Healx’s team is paving the way to a new gold standard in rare disease treatment discovery.”