Engine Biosciences secures US$27m for precision oncology and biomarkers

  • Existing investors, ClavystBio and Invus participated in the round
  • Funds will aid in advancing biomarkers, target discoveries through collaboration 

The team at Engine Biosciences

Engine Biosciences, a company leveraging machine learning and high-throughput biology to discover and develop precision oncology medicines has announced the completion of a US$27 million (RM125.5 million) Series A extension. The financing was led by Polaris Partners, with participation from both new and existing investors, bringing the total funds raised since inception to US$86 million (RM399.9 million). 

In a statement, the company that was founded in 2016 and is now based in both Singapore and San Francisco said additional participating investors include existing investors ClavystBio (a life sciences venture investor set up by Temasek), Invus, and Singapore-based global investor EDBI, as well as new investors Coronet Ventures (a Singapore-based investment entity of Cedars Sinai Intellectual Property Company) and SEEDS Capital (investment arm of Enterprise Singapore). 

It added that in conjunction with the financing, Wen Qi Ho Ph.D., Therapeutics lead at ClavystBio, has joined Engine’s Board of Directors.

Engine’s precision medicine R&D platform deciphers biological networks and pinpoints key genetic interactions driving diseases, overcoming challenges presented by biological complexity. These insights reveal targets and therapeutics to be used in biomarker-defined patient populations, allowing for more rapid identification of effective precision medicines. 

In oncology, Engine leverages the validated principle of synthetic lethality and is focused on the clinical translation of therapeutics and biomarkers across solid tumours, including ovarian, colorectal, liver, lung and prostate cancers. Engine Biosciences secures US$27m for precision oncology and biomarkers

Jeffrey Lu (pic), Engine Biosciences’ co-founder and CEO stated that the company’s findings support Engine’s mission to, "deliver clinical impact through directing the right drug for the right target to the right patient.”

To date, Engine has revealed over thirty previously unidentified precision medicine opportunities with validation data, anchoring its pipeline and feeding partnerships. Its internal drug discovery biology and chemistry teams have progressed multiple programs significantly from initial identification. 

Among its oncology pipeline is ENB-812, which Engine has overseen from independently discovering PKMYT1 as a synthetic lethal target with novel biomarkers in 2019, generating preclinical proof-of-concept across many tumour types and animal models, observing supportive clinical data, and advancing lead identification and optimisation.

In addition to high-value targets and drug candidates, Engine identified new patient selection biomarkers for several distinct classes of targeted therapies. The firm claims that its biomarkers have been validated to sensitise tumours by 100 times to specific clinical-stage investigational drugs. It said that these biomarkers present near-term potential to enhance clinical outcomes, increase commercial potential, and improve drug development economics.

Amy Schulman, managing partner of Polaris Partners, said the company has witnessed first-hand Engine’s considerable progress since its initial investment, advancing their technologies towards compelling precision medicines positioned for translation.

“We are leading this strong investor syndicate in support of Engine’s pursuit of clinical value creation through the development of its therapeutics and biomarkers and partnerships,” she added.

Benefiting from several years of research and development in its Singapore and Silicon Valley sites and foundational science from MIT, UCSF, UCSD, and Mayo Clinic, Engine’s proprietary platforms, NetMAPPR (machine learning-enabled network biology) and CombiGEM (combinatorial genetics experimentation), are engineered for drug hunters and clinical developers to discover and optimise precision medicines. In addition to high-value targets with associated biomarker-defined patient populations, Engine’s extensive biology knowledge and datasets provide insights on desirable target product profile characteristics, guiding the design and optimisation of best-in-class therapeutics.

“We are committed to supporting Engine’s growth as a global biotech company, alongside a strong syndicate of life sciences investors,” said Wen Qi Ho, Ph.D., Therapeutics lead, ClavystBio. “This is consistent with our mission to translate research into real clinical impact, as well as establishing ventures in Singapore that leverage global access to talent, data and clinical opportunities.”

Engine’s programmes and platform are underpinned by an expansive patent portfolio. With the additional funds, the company will further advance its biomarker and target discoveries toward the clinic through internal development, collaborations, and partnerships.

“Precision medicine holds the key to the next wave of groundbreaking treatments, a belief that ties Coronet Ventures closely with Engine's mission,” said Nirdesh Gupta, Ph.D., CEO of Coronet Ventures. “Investing in the company reflects our commitments to bringing research breakthroughs to clinical fruition, and anchoring ventures in Singapore that are primed for global success.”


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