Immunai wants to map the entire immune system and raised $20 million in seed funding to do it – ProWellTech
Immunai wants to map the entire immune system and raised $20 million in seed funding to do it
Over the past two years, Immunai’s founding team has been working secretly to develop new technology to map the immune system of any patient.
Founded by Noam Solomon, Harvard postdoctoral researcher and educated at MIT, and former Palantir engineer, Luis Voloch, Immunai was born out of the two men’s interest in computational biology and systems engineering. When the two were introduced to Ansuman Satpathy, a professor of cancer immunology at Stanford University, and Danny Wells, who works as a data scientist at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, the path for the company has become clear.
“Together we said that we bring understanding of all the technology and machine learning that needs to be brought into work and Ansu and Danny bring single cell biology,” said Solomon.
Now that the company is unveiling itself and the $ 20 million in funding it has received from investors including Viola Ventures and TLV Partners, will boost recruitment and expand its already solid research and development activities.
Immunai already boasts clinical partnerships with over ten medical centers and commercial partnerships with several biopharmaceutical companies, according to the company. And the team has already published peer review work on the origin of cancer-fighting T cells after PD-1 blockade, Immunai said.
“We are implementing a complex engineering pipeline. We wanted to scale to hundreds of patients and thousands of samples, “Wells said.” At the moment, new drugs called checkpoint inhibitors are on the market in the world of cancer therapy. [We’re] trying to understand how these molecules work and find new combinations and new goals. We need to see the immune system in full granularity. ”
This is what Immunai’s combination of hardware and software allows researchers to do, Wells said. “It’s a vertically integrated platform for profiling single cells,” he said. “We go even further to understand what biology is and discover it in a new combined design for experimentation.”
Cellular therapies and cancer immunotherapies are changing the practice of medicine and offer new treatments for the conditions, but given how complex the immune system is, the developers of these therapies have little insight into how their treatments will affect the immune system. Given the diversity of individual patients, variations in products can significantly change the way a patient responds to treatment, the company said.
Immunai has the potential to change the way these treatments are developed using single cell technologies to profile cells by generating over a terabyte of data from a single blood sample. The company’s proprietary database and machine learning tools map incoming data to different cell types and create profiles of immune responses based on differentiated elements. Finally, the database of immune profiles supports the sorting of biomarkers which can then be monitored for potential changes.
“Our mission is to map the immune system with neural networks and transfer learning techniques informed by a profound knowledge of immunology,” Voloch said in a statement. “We have developed the tools and know-how to help all immuno-oncology and cell therapy researchers to excel in their work. This helps increase the speed with which drugs are developed and placed on the market by clarifying their mechanisms of action and resistance. ”
Pharmaceutical companies are already aware of the technology’s transformation potential, according to Solomon. The company is already in the process of finalizing a seven-digit contract from a Fortune 100 company, according to Solomon.
One of the company’s first coups was to use research to show how immune systems work when anti-PD1 molecules are introduced. Typically the presence of PD-1 means that the production of t cells is suppressed. What ImmuneAI research revealed is that the response was not happening with T cells inside the tumor. There were new T cells that were migrating to the tumor to fight it, according to Wells.
“The whole approach we have around looking at all these indications – we believe that the right way and the most effective way to study these diseases is to look down on the immune system,” Voloch said in an interview. . “Looking at all these different scenarios. From above, see these patterns that would otherwise not be available. ”