France-based Iktos raises €15.5M to expand its AI-based drug discovery technology

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Paris-based Iktos, a company that specialises in artificial intelligence for new drug discovery, announced on Thursday that it has raised €15.5M in a Series A round of funding. 

The round was co-led by new investors M Ventures and Debiopharm Innovation Fund, with participation from Omnes Capital.

Dr Nadiya Ishnazarova of M Ventures, says, “Shortening drug discovery cycle times and accelerating processes to clinical entry at lower cost has been a high priority for the industry and clinicians alike.”

“We believe Iktos with its mature technology across generative AI and synthesis planning, and advancements in building fully integrated drug discovery platform has the potential to provide a competitive edge for the pharma industry as AI/ML becomes a core feature of R&D.” 

“Artificial Intelligence for new drug design”

Iktos mentions in a statement that the early phases of drug development — from therapeutic target discovery to first clinical entry — currently take five years on average and cost about $100M per drug candidate.

In comparison, Iktos AI solutions can significantly speed up the drug-finding process while raising the likelihood that drug candidates will be successful in moving forward to clinical development.

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The company was founded in 2016 by Quentin Perron, Nicolas Do Huu, and Yann Gaston-Mathé.

Iktos’ solutions are based on generative deep learning models that enable users to build optimised molecules in simulation from pre-existing data to satisfy all small molecule discovery project success criteria.

The use of Iktos’ platform enables major productivity gains in upstream pharmaceutical R&D. Its technology offers both professional services and a SaaS software platform, Makya. 

Iktos also develops Spaya, a synthesis planning software based on its AI technology for retrosynthesis.

The startup has already validated its technology through more than 50 collaborations with pharmaceutical and biotech companies such as Chiesi Group, Galapagos, Janssen, Merck, Teijin, Ono Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Servier, and UCB.

Capital utilisation

Iktos says the funds will help it to further develop its AI and drug discovery capabilities, as well as expand its existing SaaS software offering. 

In addition, the startup will also launch Iktos Robotics, an end-to-end drug discovery platform that will combine AI and automation of chemical synthesis to accelerate drug discovery timelines.

Iktos will also broaden the scope of the funding by applying its solutions to biological goods such as peptides, antibodies, etc. According to the startup, this will allow Iktos to be one of the first companies to offer fully integrated drug discovery services to the pharmaceutical industry.

Yann Gaston-Mathé, President and co-founder of Iktos, says, “The search for new drug matter is still a laborious and uncertain quest of exploring a chemical universe composed of a virtually infinite number of potential molecules. The application of AI for early drug discovery and design offers the possibility of a radical change for researchers exploring such chemical universe.”

“The technologies we have developed have been enabling multiple partners in realising this promise. We welcome our new, experienced, investor syndicate and fresh financing that will allow us to execute our plan of being the preferred partner for the industry to address their drug development needs.”

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Vishal Singh

Vishal Singh is a News Reporter and Social Media Marketing Lead at Silicon Canals. He covers developments in the European startup ecosystem and oversees the publication's social media presence. Before joining Silicon Canals, Vishal gained experience at the Indian digital media outlet Inc42, contributing to its growth with insightful content. Despite being a college dropout, his passion for writing has driven his career in journalism.

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