TEL AVIV, Israel, Jan. 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Protai, an AI-powered drug discovery startup, today announced its emergence from stealth, along with an $8 million seed financing round co-led by Grove Ventures and Pitango HealthTech. The funding will be used to further develop Protai's platform, accelerate its discovery programs and enhance its partnerships with pharmaceutical companies.
Despite the significant contribution of genome-level information to the efforts of drug R&D, this information fails to represent the functional layer of the cell reflected and dominated by proteins. This lack of functional understanding of a disease's molecular mechanisms is one of the main shortcomings of the current drug discovery and development process.
Protai has built an end-to-end AI-based platform that comprehensively maps the course of a disease on the protein level, enhancing the ability to observe cellular function and thereby improving the way new drugs are discovered. This effective approach enables Protai to increase accuracy in drug discovery and improve the development process, substantially saving time and lowering the costs of R&D.
"Protai's platform is like a unique compass for directing drug discovery," said Eran Seger, CEO and co-founder of Protai. "We are systematically mapping diseases on the protein level to create an entirely new layer of functional information which enables us to identify therapeutic and diagnostic targets to better combat a wide range of complex diseases."
Protai has created the world's largest and most diverse proteomic database with over 50,000 clinical samples by harmonizing large clinical datasets, as well as healthy samples from various organs and indications. This enables Protai to establish a baseline to then accurately simulate biological functional processes for a variety of diseases and accelerate drug R&D through clinical and preclinical stages.
"Protai is leading a paradigm shift in proteomics based drug discovery by creating a new class of high-quality data that was previously not available to drug researchers and development professionals," said Ittai Harel, General Partner at Pitango Venture Capital. "We are proud to support the founders and the company, as we expect its advanced technology to promote effective novel drug and biomarker development."
"Our investment in Protai highlights Grove Ventures' increasing commitment to the potential of AI in improving drug discovery and development," said Lior Handelsman, General Partner at Grove Ventures. "We are happy to partner with this exceptional team, and we are positive that Protai will make a huge leap forward in how drug candidates are selected and in how people are treated and cured."
Protai empowers drug discovery with proteomics and artificial intelligence to unlock new layers of biological insights and to combat complex diseases. Protai's platform has made a leap in solving how drug candidates are created and validated, facilitating quicker and more advanced drug discovery. Protai is backed by mission-driven leading VC funds Grove Ventures and Pitango HealthTech. The Tel Aviv based company was founded by Eran Seger and Kirill Pevzner, both experienced entrepreneurs and tech executives, and alumni of Israeli intelligence cyber corps. Protai's Advisory Board includes world-renowned proteomics and machine learning researchers including, Prof. Tami Geiger, an expert in cancer proteomics research at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Professor Alexey Nesvizhskii, a global leader in computational proteomics from the University of Michigan and Prof. Avi Ma'ayan, the Director of the Mount Sinai Center for Bioinformatics at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and an expert in the application of machine learning for drug discovery.
GK for Protai