AI Drug Discovery Startup Emerges From Stealth, Raises $1B

Xaira Therapeutics looks to discover biological targets to treat diseases

Ben Wodecki, Junior Editor - AI Business

May 1, 2024

2 Min Read

AI startup Xaira Therapeutics has launched with more than $1 billion in backing to enhance drug discovery through AI.

The San Francisco-based company is using a combination of machine learning and data generation to speed up the drug discovery and development process.

The startup is using those technologies to develop an AI platform to uncover protein and antibody designs and methods for discovering biological targets to treat diseases.

Arch Venture Partners and Foresite Capital led investments in the new startup, joined by Sequoia Capital, Menlo Ventures and Lightspeed Venture Partners. The likes of Byers Capital, SV Angel and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy also invested in Xaira.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne, former chief scientific officer of Genentech, leads the startup as CEO.

Tessier-Lavigne was recently embroiled in miscount allegations during his prior role as president of Stanford University. He faced claims he fabricated results in his research. He resigned last July but an independent Scientific Panel cleared him of any wrongdoing.

“In my previous roles, I witnessed an earlier generation of technologies fundamentally change drug discovery, delivering new medicines that alleviate the burden of disease for many patients,” said Tessier-Lavigne. “Now, witnessing how AI is impacting other industries and the considerable progress in applications of AI in biology, I believe we are poised for a revolution.”

Related:Quantum-Enhanced Generative AI Creates Viable Cancer Drug Candidates

Tessier-Lavigne co-founded Xaira alongside David Baker, a University of Washington biochemistry professor and director of the Institute for Protein Design in its School of Medicine.

Also among Xaira’s co-founders is Hetu Kamisetty, formerly of Meta and Arvind Rajpal and Don Kirkpatrick, both Genentech alums.

Xaira was spun out of the biotechnology company Illumina, securing staff from its genomics research efforts. The startup also brought in scientists from Interline Therapeutics’ proteomics research group.

The startup’s board consists of executives from government and pharma companies, including former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb, former Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky and Carolyn Bertozzi, who won the 2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

“Xaira is in a strong position to both advance fundamental AI research and translate these advances into transformative new medicines and I am excited to have the opportunity to lead the team,” said Tessier-Lavigne.

With its $1 billion launch, Xaira joins the ranks of billion-dollar AI drug discovery companies including British-based Exscientia, Chinese company Insilico Medicine and BenevolentAI.

About the Author(s)

Ben Wodecki

Junior Editor - AI Business

Ben Wodecki is the junior editor of AI Business, covering a wide range of AI content. Ben joined the team in March 2021 as assistant editor and was promoted to junior editor. He has written for The New Statesman, Intellectual Property Magazine, and The Telegraph India, among others.

Sign Up for the Newsletter
The most up-to-date news and insights into the latest emerging technologies ... delivered right to your inbox!

You May Also Like