Portfolio

Healx raises $10M for AI technology that finds treatments for rare disease faster

JUL 26, 2018

This Cambridge (UK) technology company is developing breakthrough treatments for rare diseases.

Healx today announced their $10 million Series A funding round, led by Balderton Capital, with participation from existing investors Jonathan Milner and Amadeus Capital.

Read Suranga's thoughts behind the investment on his Medium, with the story of how he first learned about Cambridge-based Healx.

Healx uses AI technology on a mission to give many of the 350 million sufferers of rare illnesses worldwide a better quality of life. There are approximately 7,000 rare diseases known globally and 95 per cent are without approved treatment. The company uses artificial intelligence, deep pharmacology expertise, and one of the largest collection of insights from rare disease patient groups to find new approaches to treating these rare diseases.

Healx works in close partnership with rare disease patient groups who are currently underserved by the traditional drug development model.

Healx co-founders, Tim Guilliams (founder of the Cambridge Rare Disease Network) and David Brown (the co-inventor of Viagra)

Healx arose as a shared vision between the founder of the Cambridge Rare Disease Network, Tim Guilliams, and the co-inventor of Viagra, David Brown.

The company launched in 2014 to revolutionise and accelerate rare disease treatments at scale. Together they drew on lessons learned during the development of Viagra, which was repurposed from its initial indication as a heart drug to use for several other diseases including erectile dysfunction and pulmonary hypertension. The founders of Healx believe that many drugs also have the potential to be repurposed to treat other diseases.

Other founding luminaries include:

  • Andreas Bender, academic co-founder and co-founding CTO, Lecturer in Molecular Informatics at the Centre for Molecular Sciences Informatics at Cambridge University.
  • Hermann Hauser, KBE, Investor (Amadeus Capital), Co-Founder (ARM, sold for +$30Bn), Co-Founder (Amadeus Capital - VC).
  • Jonathan Milner, PhD, Board, Lead Investor, Founder, CEO of Abcam (+$3Bn cap), Founder: Milner Institute for Therapeutics.

The $10m investment will be used to more than double Healx’s diverse and multi-disciplinary top talent of software engineers, data scientists, pharmacologists, drug development and commercial expertise, and to expand its world-class artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies.

Finding new uses for already clinically approved drugs reduces the time it takes to get new medicines to patients by 80 per cent - a crucial step in rapidly improving quality of life. The traditional drug development model typically takes 10-15 years at a cost of $2 billion per new drug, with a failure rate of 95 per cent.

Healx has a simple but profound goal: To transform the lives of rare disease patients. Our technology helps us find treatments where none currently exist.

Co-founder and CEO, Tim Guilliams

“Healx has a simple but profound goal: To transform the lives of rare disease patients. Our technology helps us find treatments where none currently exist,” explained co-founder and CEO, Tim Guilliams. “Our proven approach is to start from existing drugs and apply artificial intelligence to niche disease populations, working with patient groups to accelerate treatment development. Our success comes from our world-class multi-disciplinary team of experts, leveraging cutting-edge artificial intelligence techniques to cut the discovery-to-treatment time from years to months.”

The traditional drug discovery process is broken, it’s slow, it’s high failure, and it’s not economic for rare diseases.

David Brown, PhD, Chair, Chief Scientific Officer, co-founder, Ex-Global Head of Drug Discovery, Roche, and Co-Inventor of Viagra

David Brown, PhD, Chair, Chief Scientific Officer, co-founder, Ex-Global Head of Drug Discovery, Roche, and Co-Inventor of Viagra (+ $30Bn sales), added, “The traditional drug discovery process is broken, it’s slow, it’s high failure, and it’s not economic for rare diseases, but today’s technology can change that and help the 350 million under-served rare disease patients. Healx is showing that we can massively transform the rate of discovery of new medicines, reducing timelines and costs.”

The Healx team will be foundational to a new way of matching treatments to patients and opening new markets for the medical industry.

Suranga Chandratillake

“The Healx team will be foundational to a new way of matching treatments to patients and opening new markets for the medical industry. They have already proved their approach works, and as the platform grows it could massively improve the lives of millions people currently suffering from rare diseases.” Suranga Chandratillake, Partner, Balderton

Healx co-founder and CEO, Tim Guilliams

You can read coverage of the announcement in the Telegraph.

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