Cambridge medtech Healx raises $56m to find treatments for rare diseases

16 Oct 2019

From left: Healx COO Kate Hilyard and CEO Tim Guilliams. Image: Healx

Atomico led the $56m investment round, which comes just a year after Healx raised $10m in Series A funding.

On Wednesday (16 October), AI-powered and patient-inspired technology company Healx announced that it has raised $56m in Series B funding.

The Cambridge-based start-up runs an AI drug discovery platform, which leverages public and proprietary biomedical data and combines its technology with patient insights and drug discovery expertise, with the aim of advancing 100 rare disease treatments to clinical trials by 2025.

The $56m investment round was led by Atomico. There was additional participation from Intel Capital, Global Brain, Btov Partners and existing investors Balderton Capital, Amadeus Capital Partners and Jonathan Milner. The company raised $10m in its Series A funding round last year.

In a statement, the company said: “Where the traditional drug discovery model takes more than a decade and can run into the billions of dollars, Healx’s AI-driven approach makes the process faster, more efficient and more cost effective.”

It added that its AI platform, Healnet, delivers data-driven treatment predictions, which shortens the discovery-to-clinic timeline to as little as 24 months.

The back of a man's head as he uses a laptop to read code in front of a computer screen displaying data on a graph. The man has brown hair and is wearing a teal jumper.

A Healx employee using the company’s technology. Image: Healx

Scaling the platform

The firm’s co-founder and CEO, Dr Tim Guilliams, said: “The size of this Series B financing, especially this quickly after our Series A round last year, is an endorsement of the value of our platform and the pace at which we have developed.

“It allows us to scale our impact with the launch of our Rare Treatment Accelerator programme and to progress into clinical trials.”

Guilliams said that of the 7,000 rare diseases known today, around 95pc still do not have an approved treatment.

“To date, it’s been families and patient groups who have had to become experts in the diseases affecting their loved ones and have often been the ones driving forward the efforts into finding new treatments.

“With our unique combination of in-house R&D, industry collaborations and now the Rare Treatment Accelerator, we look forward to supporting these groups in their mission.”

Healx board member and principal at Atomico, Irina Haivas, added: “The current, expensive, trial-and-error-based model of drug discovery hasn’t changed in a century. And it especially fails rare disease patients. 50pc of these patients are children, many living with highly debilitating symptoms.

“Healx has shown that doesn’t have to be the case, by combining AI with world-class pharmacological expertise and putting patients first. We believe that the new paradigm in drug discovery will emerge at the intersection of technology, data and biology, and we’re confident that Healx’s team is paving the way to a new gold standard in rare disease treatment discovery.”

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic