Belfast-based Amply raises £1.4m for AI drug discovery platform

12 Feb 2024

From left: Dermot Tierney and Dr Ben Thomas. Image: Amply Discovery

The start-up previously raised £900,000 in equity and grant funding to help tackle infectious diseases.

Amply Discovery, a spin-out of Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) that develops new drugs using AI, has raised £1.4m to invest in its drug discovery studio.

Founded in 2021 by Dermot Tierney and Dr Ben Thomas, Amply has developed a drug discovery platform that is powered by artificial intelligence, which helps make the process more predictable and less expensive.

The start-up is currently focused on two flagship research and development programmes that are expected to validate its platform.

First is an RNA interference, or RNAi, therapy to tackle highly genetically mediated cancers. The programme has been awarded £835,000 by Innovate UK and Innosuisse to develop a new RNAi therapy for acute myeloid leukaemia, in which bone marrow makes many abnormal blood cells.

The second programme is focused on inhaled antimicrobial therapies to fight multi-drug resistant lung infections. It has been awarded more than £600,000 by Innovate UK to develop a new nebulised antimicrobial product for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.

Thomas, who is the CEO of Amply, said the funding will help Amply realise its ambition of “democratising” the discovery of new therapeutics by building a drug discovery studio.

“[The studio] leverages the raw power of evolution to unearth new medicines from nature’s huge untapped reservoir,” he said.

“As a drug discovery studio which discovers and develops de novo first-in-class drug candidates for downstream out-licensing, this funding will significantly enhance our pipeline of licence-ready assets,” added Tierney, who is the chief operating officer.

In September 2022, Amply raised £900,000 in a mix of equity and grant funding to help tackle infectious diseases. The funding was raised from Innovate UK, Co-Fund NI, QUBIS Innovation Fund, the Helix Way Partnership and members of the Halo Business Angel Network.

“Amply Discovery is a fantastic example of another quality life science company emerging from the buoyant Northern Ireland ecosystem,” said non-executive chair Mark Beards.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic