insitro raises USD143m in Series B financing

insitro, a machine-learning driven drug discovery and development company, has raised USD143 million in an oversubscribed Series B financing. 

The financing was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from new investors Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments) and funds and accounts advised by T Rowe Price Associates, Inc. as well as funds managed by BlackRock, Casdin Capital, HOF Capital, WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund, and other undisclosed investors. Current investors ARCH Venture Partners, Foresite Capital, GV, Third Rock Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, and Alexandria Venture Investments also participated in the financing. In addition, insitro announced that Vijay Pande, PhD, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, has been appointed to the board of directors.

“Since our founding, insitro has been focused on building a data-driven drug discovery and development company,” says Daphne Koller, PhD, founder and chief executive officer of insitro. “We have spent the last two years advancing several critical components of our business. First, we have assembled a world class team of computational scientists and engineers, biologists and translational scientists, drug developers and company builders, all uniquely working in true partnership. Second, we have built a powerful platform for producing disease-relevant biological data at scale. Finally, we have made important scientific progress on the development of ML-driven disease models that can predict human clinical outcomes and on the application of these models to our first two therapeutic areas in liver and CNS disease. With this financing, as well as milestones we have achieved through our strategic partnership with Gilead, we are in a strong position to continue executing on our vision.”

Proceeds from the financing will be used to continue to build insitro’s foundations of technology and automation, enabling data generation at larger scale and further expanding the capabilities to generate predictive models of human disease. In addition, this capital will be used to prosecute newly identified, genetically validated targets, to identify patient segmentation biomarkers, and to advance therapeutics in genetically-defined patient populations. insitro also plans to establish new, synergistic industry partnerships and build additional ML-enabled capabilities along the R&D value chain in order to accelerate drug discovery and development.

“To improve the efficiency, productivity and speed of drug discovery and development, insitro’s team had the insight to build the company on a stronger foundation, based on advances in knowledge, science and technology,” says Jay Markowitz, MD, vice president at T Rowe Price Associates. “We are privileged to contribute to this effort to invent new medicines for patients in need, while creating value for those who entrust us with their capital.”

“insitro possesses the right combination of scientific rigor, high quality data, and novel technologies to lead a new generation of drug development, which is a strong fit for both our Innovations in Health Care strategy and our long-term investment approach. We look forward to partnering with the team in San Francisco to advance their mission,” says Leon Pederson, Managing Director and Head of Thematic Investing, CPP Investments.

Dr Pande, who joins insitro’s board of directors, is a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, where he focuses on investments in biopharma and healthcare. Previously, Dr Pande was the Henry Dreyfus Professor of chemistry and professor of structural biology and of computer science at Stanford University, where he remains an adjunct professor, and was also the creator of the Folding@Home Distributed Computing Project. He is also the co-founder of Globavir Biosciences, where he translated his research advances into a startup that aimed to discover cures for Dengue Fever and Ebola.

“In the two years since its inception, insitro has already emerged as a leader in bridging between data science and engineering to transform the landscape of drug discovery," says Pande. "They are developing novel approaches that combine tools from cell biology, bioengineering, and data science to generate data at the quality and scale required to apply and expand the power of machine learning. I am excited to work with this incredible team as we realise the next generation of drug discovery and development."