Empowering Targeted Cancer Drug Discovery with AI and Novel Disease Models, Signet Therapeutics Raises ~$10 million in Seed-2 Round

On October 29, 2021 Signet Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical startup focusing on developing innovative targeted cancer drugs using novel disease models, reported it has completed seed-2 round of approximately 10 million US dollars (Press release, Signet Therapeutics, OCT 29, 2021, View Source [SID1234592207]).

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The new round was led by 5Y Capital (Morningside Venture), with participation from Yael Capital, Blue Ocean Capital, and existing investors Tiantu Capital and Sky9 Capital. The new funding will advance Signet’s two first-in-class oncology programs toward clinical trials. In addition, Signet plans to expand its platform of disease models to other cancer areas and empower target discovery and pharmacodynamics studies at other pharmaceutical companies on a greater scale. Founded in 2020, Signet has raised a seed round of ¥60 million in CNY (equivalent to approximately $10 million), totaling two rounds of around $20 million within its first year.

Dr. Haisheng Zhang, CEO of Signet Therapeutics, and his core team members were from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, one of the world’s leading cancer research institutions. Traditional in vitro studies use cell lines that cannot accurately model patient’s drug performance, often returning misleading bioactivity results that misguide the screening and optimization of lead compounds, which could result in clinical failure. Leveraging years of oncology and functional biology and genomic research expertise, Signet developed a unique platform of novel disease models based on real-world cancer genomics data to simulate drug effects in 3D organ tissues that bear a closer resemblance to human biology and produce pharmacodynamics data with higher relevance to clinical performance.

Gastric cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the world. Close to one-third of the cases are of the diffusive gastric cancer (DGC) subtype, which is associated with poor prognosis and a low response rate to existing cancer therapies and medicines. Using its novel disease models platform, Signet made the groundbreaking discovery of a promising new target for DGC. It launched a drug discovery program with the leading AI drug R&D company XtalPi and, in March 2021, announced the identification of a pre-clinical candidate in over six months.

As Signet quickly advance its first-in-class DGC pipeline toward clinical trials, it has recently expanded its drug discovery program with XtalPi to another novel cancer target discovered by Signet. The two companies hope to build upon their existing success in combining XtalPi’s AI drug discovery capabilities with Signet’s customized novel disease models to quickly discover and validate candidates with potent bioactivity and a desirable drug property profile that can translate to enhanced clinical performance.