How WhiteLab Genomics is using AI to help advance cell and gene therapy • TechCrunch

French biotechnology company WhiteLab . Genomics Raised $10 million in funding for an AI platform designed to help discover and develop gene therapies.

Founded in Paris in 2019, newly Y Combinator (YC) Graduate WhiteLab Genomics provides gene and cell therapy companies with predictive simulation software to accelerate the design of gene and cell therapies. Gene therapy, for starters, is an emerging treatment that involves replacing missing or defective genes in cells to correct genetic disorders, while cellular therapy is about changing a cell or groups of cells to make an effect throughout the body.

Thousands of diseases, including cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s stem from defects in an individual’s DNA, and emerging research into genetic and cellular therapies may eventually treat such conditions at their source, replacing the need for drugs or surgery.

However, it is usually expensive to develop such treatments without a guarantee that they will work. Current methodologies in developing new gene and cell therapies typically involve a trial-and-error approach, according to David Del Borgo, CEO and co-founder of WhiteLab Genomics, in which scientists develop a scientific hypothesis and test it in the lab: If it works, it advances to the next stage, but if it doesn’t work , they are back to square one with a different hypothesis. And this is where WhiteLab Genomics enters the fray, with a computational approach that integrates machine learning and deep learning techniques to simultaneously address multiple scientific hypotheses, and looking at different genetic variants to “predict the best molecular design of therapy” based on targets.

“Gene and cell therapies still suffer from poor efficacy, immunological secondary effects, and very high development costs,” Del Borgo explained to TechCrunch. “We provide clients with comprehensive predictive models that combine genetics and computational biology in order to design and select the best candidates to be tested in the lab.”

WhiteLab Genomics founders: CEO David Del Borogo and Chief Science Officer Julian Coutino Image credits: WhiteLab Genomics

Show me the data

As with almost any AI models, WhiteLab Genomics uses countless data sets to train its algorithms that include genome, RNA, tumor and protein repositories, as well as a “comprehensive set of documentation” such as public scientific and clinical research data.

“We are also partnering with specialist organizations to enrich models with additional non-public data,” Del Borgo added. “We train and validate our algorithms on well-characterized, interconnected datasets within our knowledge graph database. These included public databases, private data and datasets from our partners. It predicts biological features from new genetic sequences to build new therapeutic vectors and generates New therapeutic architectures.

In terms of the types of treatments WhiteLab Genomics helps develop, Del Borgo said the company is currently working on projects that include DNA-based treatments for metabolic conditions such as Lysosomal diseasesAs well as stem cell treatments for blood diseases such as sickle cell disease Immunogenetic therapies for the treatment of cancers.

Elsewhere, a number of companies are using artificial intelligence to help discover drugs, Like BenevolentAI Resulting in increased investment From the world of venture capitalwhile there is a Startup Battlefield winner from TechCrunch Cellino Which Recently raised $80 million To develop cell therapies using artificial intelligence. WhiteLab Genomics is similar, but works with both genes And the Cell therapy companies.

It is also worth noting that WhiteLab Genomics Represents a growing list of French start-ups To successfully infiltrate the ranks of YC. Of the 40 European companies in the WhiteLab Genomics ‘Winter ’22 group, 5 are French, a number that rose to 8 from 34 for the summer of 22 segment – the second highest number from all of Europe.

With $10 million in the bank from a French investor Omnis Capital A heavyweight for biopharmaceuticals DibiopharmAnd the WhiteLab Genomics is now well funded to build its platform and multiply its partnerships with the scientific field, which to date have included notable collaborations with French national institute of health and medical researchInserm), Genthon LaboratoriesAmong other pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

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