Cambridge-based drug discovery company PharmEnable has closed a £1.8 million seed financing round to support its transition into a drug development company.

The firm uses medicinal chemistry and AI-enabled approaches to design drug candidate molecules.

The technology can predict improved small molecule hits to targets across a range of disease areas. Its approach focuses on exploring and mapping the possible ‘chemical universe’ and designing small molecules that are highly complex with shapes similar to those found in nature.

The round, which was significantly over-subscribed, was led by Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge, as well as the University of Cambridge Enterprise Fund VI, managed by Parkwalk Advisors.

It also attracted support from angel investors and notable life science funds, including Jonathan Milner, serial entrepreneur and founder of Abcam.

A spin-out from the University of Cambridge in 2016, and financed to date by its founders and service-based revenues, PharmEnable will use the funding to evolve its business model and invest in a pipeline of drug discovery programmes across a number of disease areas including cancer and neurodegenerative disease.

The financing has enabled PharmEnable to expand its scientific team including Dr David Vidal as Director of Technology, with further expansion, including the addition of a Director of Drug Discovery planned for Q3 2020.

Commenting on the financing, CEO of PharmEnable Dr. Hannah Sore said: “We are pleased to welcome on board our new investors and appreciate their confidence in our business.

“We have proven the strength of our platform in tapping unexplored parts of the chemical universe to find novel and specific hits for currently undruggable targets, and are excited to now be able to invest in our own pipeline of drug discovery programmes, as well as to develop further strategic partnerships.”