Drug creation is a long, laborious, and failure-prone process.
To succeed, a drug needs to work for a diversity of patients—patients with different genetic backgrounds and cellular and biochemical processes—and yet, drug discovery today begins with oversimplification: a single target, and test tube (in vitro) models before in vivo data generation conducted in a living organism.
Following this process, even if a drug makes it to human clinical trials, the failure rate from that point forward, several years in, is still >90 percent.
Even the most sophisticated AI models will not be successful if trained on incomplete data. The most valuable data to inform new drugs—how chemical matter interacts with human cells within living organisms—is at the very end of the process and not usable for early-stage discovery.
Today, we are proud to announce our partnership with the team at Vevo Therapeutics, which is creating a new, data-informed paradigm for drug discovery. Beginning with creating the world’s largest in vivo atlas of how chemistry perturbs biology, Vevo’s unique approach paves the way for an entirely new way of doing drug discovery, one informed by millions of in vivo data points on diverse patient/drug interactions at the very start of the drug creation process.
When we met co-founders, Nima Alidoust, Ph.D., Johnny Yu, Ph.D., and Hani Goodarzi, Ph.D., we were already speaking the same language. The team shares the perspective—which Wing heavily subscribes to and invests behind—that drug discovery is only as powerful as the data that fuels it. The data that informs early drug creation is limited in how it’s generated: out of context from how disease occurs in living organisms. Because of this, small molecule drug development improves slowly and iteratively, something co-founder at Vevo and renowned professor and inventor at UCSF, Kevan Shokat, Ph.D, has experienced first-hand over decades.
In addition to Kevan’s pioneering work in medicinal chemistry, Nima’s Ph.D. was in computational and in silico chemistry before leading product and research teams at deep tech and AI startups. Hani and Johnny bring cancer biology, genomics, and AI expertise from UCSF, where Johnny completed his Ph.D. in Hani’s lab. Often the most innovative solutions are at the intersection of several disciplines—this is certainly the case with the deep domain experts in the founding team at Vevo.
Vevo has created a way to measure how a drug impacts cells from hundreds of patients, in a single in vivo experiment, at the single-cell level of resolution. They’ve cracked the code on 1mx data generation on drug-induced changes in gene expression, using the most sophisticated disease models.
We are thrilled to co-lead Vevo’s $12m seed financing with our respected friends at General Catalyst, joined by a group of collaborators, Mubadala Capital, AIX Ventures, and Camford Capital. It has been a joy working with Vevo, and we are excited to partner and help build towards this new paradigm for drug discovery!