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1859 closes on $40 million to combine AI and screening data to discover small molecule medicines

  • 1859 Inc. Launches with $40 Million Series A to Industrialize New Medicine Discovery by Combining Artificial Intelligence and Empirical Screening Data at Scale

  • Platform integrates pico-scale biochemical or cell-based screening of in silico-derived libraries to discover and optimize new medicines against novel or currently intractable targets

  • Financing Led by Northpond Ventures and OMX Ventures



1859, Inc., a platform company combining artificial intelligence and empirical pico-scale screening data at scale to discover new small molecule medicines for emerging disease targets, launched today and announced the close of a highly successful Series A funding round of $40 million led by experienced life science investors Northpond Ventures and OMX Ventures. Existing investors, FusionX Ventures and Vertical Venture Partners also joined the round. The venture funds will support the development of new capabilities, and the scaling and advancement of preclinical discovery programs building upon a base of 16 pharmaceutical, biotech and academic partners.

“Our unique ability to rapidly build and empirically test novel small molecule libraries for specific functions allows us to validate predictions, reinforce or retrain our models using AI, and ultimately improve our predictive power. Most importantly, we are accelerating the discovery of new medicines for patients in need.”

Transformative technologies, including next-generation sequencing, single-cell genomics, and CRISPR have been a boon to discovery biology. These technologies have unearthed a plethora of novel targets implicated in human disease, but until now, there has not been a screening platform that matches the cadence of biological discovery. By combining massive datasets generated from pico-scale screening of novel chemical libraries with artificial intelligence predictions, 1859 can efficiently capitalize on these novel targets and rapidly advance preclinical discovery programs.

“Our pico-scale screening platform generates highly valuable functional data for novel chemical space on a massive scale. Not only can we leverage modern computational strategies to predict chemical starting points, but we can effectively functionally test hundreds-of-thousands of these predictions,” said Devon Cayer, Ph.D., cofounder and chief executive officer of 1859, Inc. “Our unique ability to rapidly build and empirically test novel small molecule libraries for specific functions allows us to validate predictions, reinforce or retrain our models using AI, and ultimately improve our predictive power. Most importantly, we are accelerating the discovery of new medicines for patients in need.”

At the heart of 1859’s discovery engine is its unique “design, build, test, learn” process, which combines the best aspects of empirical data and in silico discovery methods, leveraging next-generation DNA-encoded libraries and artificial intelligence. The platform can identify, synthesize, and test high-potential small molecules at scale. By exploring billions of molecular starting points simultaneously, and rapidly synthesizing target-tailored bead-encoded libraries for testing on proprietary pico-scale screening platforms, 1859 can efficiently make discoveries, generate insights, and optimize those discoveries with short iteration cycles.

“Despite advances in screening technologies, finding a ‘drug-like’ small molecule therapeutic remains a lengthy, costly, and unpredictable process with high failure rates. 1859 is combining its innovative functional screening platform with computational approaches to transform early discovery with a faster, cost-effective, and predictable platform at scale,” said Lily Li, Ph.D., Principal of Northpond Ventures. “Northpond is excited to collaborate with 1859 to advance its novel therapeutic discovery platform and accelerate the development of new therapies.”

1859, Inc. was founded in 2019 and is led by an experienced team of life science innovators. Before founding 1859, Chief Executive Officer Devon Cayer, Ph.D., studied chemical biology and invented novel DNA barcoding technologies as a scientist at The Scripps Research Institute, and developed next-generation sequencing platform technologies at Omniome (acquired by PacBio) and Singular Genomics. Chief Technology Officer Andrew MacConnell, Ph.D., studied chemistry, molecular biology, and integrated microfluidic systems in co-founder Brian Paegel’s laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute. Chief of Staff Ramesh Ramji, Ph.D., studied Integrative microfluidics for biological systems from NUS, Yale and played an integral role in the advanced research group at Illumina.

“We believe that 1859’s ability to effectively couple big data and computational models with wet lab biological tools, is enabling a step change in our ability to rapidly develop best-in-class and first-in-class new medicines for a wide range of high-value disease targets,” said Daniel Fero, Managing Director of OMX Ventures. “1859’s technology is the natural evolution of previous high-throughput approaches to discovery, and their technology is uniquely positioned to accelerate discovery as we know it.”

1859 was incubated at JLABS in San Diego, Calif. and currently employs 53 people. The company is headquartered in the heart of San Diego’s biotechnology hub, proximate to leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies, as well as world-class research and academic institutions.

About 1859, Inc. 1859 Inc. is a platform company combining artificial intelligence and empirical screening data at scale to discover new small molecule medicines for emerging disease targets. The company partners with pharmaceutical and biotech companies, and academic institutions to dramatically shorten the time and resources needed to identify and screen high-potential compounds for future exploration and development.


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