NEW YORK, May 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Envisagenics, Inc., announced today a $1 million investment award from M12 (formerly Microsoft Ventures) and Madrona Venture Group. The investment is one of four making up the Innovate.AI Global Startup Competition aimed at furthering the development of AI to solve problems and improve people's lives presented by M12, Madrona Venture Group, Notion, and Vertex Ventures Israel.
Envisagenics is a drug discovery company with the mission to do just that – leverage the power of AI and big data to unlock new therapies. The NYC based company, which spun out of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, developed SpliceCore, a cloud-based drug discovery platform powered by AI to understand a complex mechanism called splicing and its role in disease. Splicing is a highly regulated process in cells that is critical for biological diversity and production of functional proteins required for our body to work. Errors in this process can cause devastating diseases: at least 370 genetic diseases identified to date can be caused by splicing errors, such as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Huntington's Disease, and Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Fortunately, these errors can be corrected using RNA therapeutics. SpliceCore analyzes RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) data to accelerate RNA therapeutics discovery using innovative machine learning to identify new biomarkers and drug targets.
"Drug discovery can be a long and expensive process," stated Martin Akerman, co-founder and CTO of Envisagenics. 'by combining new technologies like sequencing, cloud-computing and AI we can discover drugs that work throughout larger populations and reach more patients in that way."
"In the race to cure cancer and genetic diseases, speed, accuracy and cost-efficacy are vital to driving progress," said Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice president, global head of M12. "Envisagenics' SpliceCore platform is shrinking a process that has traditionally taken years into minutes by leveraging the power of the cloud and AI to reduce complexity and pave a path to innovation for therapeutic solutions."
"When we embarked on this journey with M12, we knew we would find creative and meaningful applications of AI to real world problems and the team at Envisagenics brings all that and more," commented S. Somasegar (Soma), managing director, Madrona Venture Group. "We have been investing in AI platforms and vertical applications for more than five years now and it is gratifying to see that applications that have the potential to improve lives in a lasting way are being brought to market. We look forward to working with Envisagenics in the coming years."
With the $1M additional funds and Microsoft Azure credits also included in the prize, Envisagenics plans to continue development of its platform, specifically improving the software architecture to efficiently analyze the increasing volumes of RNA-seq data flowing into the platform and prioritize drug targets and biomarkers using their AI-based machine learning algorithms.
"We are very excited to receive this honor from M12 and Madrona Venture Group. Microsoft has been an incredible partner from the early days, first as part of the Microsoft for Startups Program and now being included in this competition," said Maria Luisa Pineda, Envisagenics co-founder and CEO. "It is clear that both venture groups recognize the power and promise of applying AI to accelerate drug discovery and we are looking forward to working with Nagraj and Soma as we continue to scale Envisagenics."
To learn more about Innovate.AI and the winners, visit the Official Microsoft Blog.
Envisagenics was founded in 2014 as a spinout of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. The company's mission is to reduce the complexity of biomedical data to accelerate the development of innovative therapeutic solutions through RNA splicing analytics and artificial intelligence. Envisagenics focuses on the discovery of RNA therapeutics. Over 30 million people in the US suffer from genetic diseases or cancer that could be caused by mutations affecting RNA splicing. 370 human diseases are known to be caused by splicing errors, and more remain to be discovered.
Envisagenics' breakthrough technology, SpliceCore, is a cloud-based platform that is experimentally validated to predict drug targets and biomarkers through splicing discovery from RNA-seq data, using Artificial Intelligence. The company is using its software to identify splicing errors causative of diseases, identify the right drug-targets and develop RNA therapeutics through partnerships and collaborations with Biopharma. Envisagenics' in-silico RNA therapeutics discovery platform replaces expensive drug-target selection and lead design with efficient computer simulations, decreasing time, cost, and failure risk of drug development programs. For more information, visit www.envisagenics.com.
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