Cambridge Uni spin-out raises $2.25m to transition to drug development


The 2016 spin-out PharmEnable's technology can predict improved small molecule hits to targets across a range of disease areas

The PharmEnable team

PharmEnable, a Cambridge-based drug discovery company using advanced medicinal chemistry and AI-enabled approaches to design the next generation of highly complex and specific drug candidate molecules, has closed a £1.8 million ($2.25m) seed financing to support its transition into a drug development company.

The 2016 spin-out of Cambridge University aims to develop new treatments for conditions with significant unmet clinical need, by designing highly complex molecules for addressing challenging biological targets.

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 a wealth of angel investors and notable life science funds.

Dr Christine Martin, Head of Life Science Investment at Cambridge Enterprise, said: "We are pleased to support the company in its transition to in-house drug discovery. We believe the company will have significant impact through addressing undruggable therapeutic targets."

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. Additionally, PharmEnable will continue to engage in strategic partnerships with pharma, innovative biotechs and academia.

The PharmEnable platform

The PharmEnable platform 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 novel small molecules that are highly complex with shapes similar to those found in nature.

This approach can identify hits with improved specificity compared with traditional screening methods, and allows PharmEnable to take on particularly challenging biological targets, such as protein-protein interactions and epitranscriptomic modifications that have been undruggable by existing approaches.

The solution consists of two elements: ChemUniverse a diversity-focused virtual database of chemically diverse molecules; and ChemSeek, a suite of gold standard AI-enabled tools for finding drug target matches from structure and ligand data.

Sign up for your free email newsletter

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