Phenomic AI Launches with $6 Million Financing and an AI/ML Platform for Targeting the Tumor Stroma

Two cancer drug targets discovered on the company platform have been validated and are being advanced into preclinical studies

Phenomic AI, a biotech using AI/ML to reveal drug targets that emerge from cell-cell interactions and drive novel antibody drug discovery for challenging diseases, today announced the official launch of the company with US$6 million seed financing. The financing was led by CTI Life Sciences Fund and joined by AV8 Ventures, Luminous Ventures, and Viva BioInnovator. Current investors, Garage Capital, Hike Ventures, and Cantos Ventures, also joined the round. The proceeds of the financing will support preclinical studies for two validated cancer drug targets discovered with the company’s platform as well as discover and advance additional drug targets into the company’s pipeline. Phenomic AI also announced the appointments of Dr. Michael (Mike) Briskin, as Chief Scientific Officer (CSO), and Nobel Laureate James (Jim) P. Allison, Ph.D. and Padmanee (Pam) Sharma, M.D., Ph.D., to the company’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB), bringing significant expertise in immunotherapy discovery and development.

“Cells do not exist in isolation in the human body, and the interactions between different cell types in disease states carries significant information that Phenomic has unlocked for drug discovery,” said Shermaine Tilley, Ph.D., Managing Partner, CTI Life Sciences Fund. Ruchita Sinha, General Partner at AV8, further commented, “In two years, the Phenomic team has made impressive progress in building their platform and using it to find new drug targets in the tumor stroma. The appointments of Mike, Jim, and Pam, leaders in immuno-oncology, further highlight the exceptional advancements of Phenomic.”

The tumor stroma has been increasingly recognized as a complex barrier, composed of many different cell types and other factors, such as fibroblasts and the extracellular matrix, that prevent immune therapies from working effectively. A major challenge in discovering drugs for the tumor stroma has been screening targets against more physiologically relevant models, such as organoids that incorporate the many cell-types needed to simulate the stroma. To address this challenge, Phenomic’s platform uses deep-learning tools for image and genetic analysis to deconvolute effects of target inhibition in multi-cell assays. By factoring in multi-omics analysis of tissue data and reverse translation of clinical datasets, Phenomic’s approach seeks to ensure model and mechanism relevance early in the drug discovery process.

“Building on our foundational machine-learning tools, we can now process and extract information from the interactions between different cell types at the scale and speed necessary to power drug discovery,” said Sam Cooper, CEO of Phenomic AI. “We’ve rapidly identified novel targets in the tumor stroma and have confirmed that they are heavily upregulated in specific solid tumors. With the support of our new and current investors and the addition of Mike, who brings deep drug discovery expertise, we are launching the company with significant momentum to advance novel antibodies into preclinical studies that could improve the effectiveness of cancer treatment.”

Dr. Briskin has more than 25 years of industry experience, including founding and running discovery research at Jounce Therapeutics, leading translational studies