20n Bio, a biotechnology startup based in Malvern, has raised $3.3 million in seed funding to design new proteins for therapeutics via its AI-powered open-source platform.
The funding round was led by BlueRun Ventures Chin and will allow the startup to expand its scientific team, start multiple studies on genetic diseases, and improve the robustness of its discovery platform. Terry Zhu, BlueRun Ventures Managing Director and new 20n Bio board member, referred to the firm’s participation in the round by stating:
“BlueRun Ventures invests in cutting-edge technologies and appreciates the power of AI in drug discovery and development. We believe 20n’s AI-powered protein design platform holds tremendous promise, and we are very proud to lead the initial financing round to support the company’s vision to find effective treatments for a wide range of devastating diseases.”
20N Bio was founded by Dr. Mingfu Zhu earlier in 2021 with the mission to generate new protein drugs that address medical conditions that have been unmet for decades. To do this, the startup harvests recent advances in algorithms and computing power to facilitate the design of proteins through the design of binders. Mingfu Zhu said in this regard:
“The successful development of COVID-19 vaccines by Biotech and Moderna demonstrates the great potential of mRNA therapeutics. In addition to mRNA vaccines for infectious diseases and cancer, there is substantial interest in developing mRNA-encoded proteins as drugs. 20n focuses on designing novel mRNA-encoded proteins for therapeutics. We have identified unique use cases to fully leverage the potential of protein binders. With the vision to generate protein drugs in silico on demand, we have assembled a talented team experienced in antibody development, computational biology, molecular biology, and RNA biology to achieve our goals.”
The design of proteins has historically been one of the most difficult processes in the biotech industry due to the astronomical search space, which results in high financial, technological, and logistical costs. 20n Bio’s open-source could change how proteins are “invented”, opening the door to new use cases such as the design of custom fermentation organisms via DNA design.