Eleven Therapeutics, a biotechnology company leading the AI revolution in nucleic acid therapeutics, announced today that it has raised a total of $22 million in seed funding.
Among the roster of funders is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which committed $9 million in funding to Eleven, including $5 million towards future equity investment supporting the development of a first-of-its-kind platform that designs small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) with ultra-long durability by utilising high throughput combinatorial chemistry and AI.
Eleven’s platform aims to decipher the Structure-Activity Relationship (SAR) of siRNAs. The number of possible molecular compositions is staggeringly high, exceeding the number of grains of sand on earth. The platform solves this challenge by generating functional data about the activity profile of an unprecedented scale of siRNA molecules in parallel. In order to unlock the rules of SAR, the team is developing a robust deep learning framework. Ultimately, this proprietary, patent-protected, massively parallel screening platform will systematically identify the best combination of building blocks for therapeutic candidates.
“Eleven’s new platform addresses a long-standing challenge in RNAi,” said Dr. Greg Hannon, Director of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute at the University of Cambridge, scientific co-founder of Eleven, and one of the world’s leading pioneers in RNAi. “The potential chemical space for optimising these molecules is absolutely massive. Eleven’s solution will map this space by generating unprecedented amounts of data, which can then be leveraged by AI. We are thrilled about this new funding and the vote of confidence by our investors that it represents.”
The additional $4 million by the Gates Foundation was awarded as a non-dilutive grant furthering Eleven’s development of prophylactics against endemic and pandemic-poised respiratory viruses. Importantly, the Gates Foundation’s funding will promote wide accessibility of Eleven’s ultimate treatments to people in need in developing countries. The company additionally has a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the Vaccine Research Centre of the NIAID.
“I am delighted by the continued success of Eleven Therapeutics,” said Dr. Daniel Douek, Chief of the Human Immunology Section at the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, National Institutes of Health. “NIAID has a Research Collaborative Agreement with Eleven with respect to siRNA technologies against pandemic threats. Eleven’s new platform to map the structure-activity relationship of siRNAs to increase their durability and efficacy could play an important part in our collaborative efforts.”
“The future equity investment and grant funding from the Gates Foundation propels our revolutionary efforts of mapping the chemical space of oligonucleotide therapeutics. Our platforms pave the way for the discovery of groundbreaking RNAi therapeutics and prophylactics against some of the most devastating diseases of our time,” said Prof. Yaniv Erlich, co-founder and CEO of Eleven Therapeutics.
Additional funding sources include Kindred Capital; NFX Bio (formerly TechBio); Harel Technology Investments; Entrée Capital; and the Innovate UK Smart Grant.