Northern VCTs

AI platform raises €20m to deliver targeted cancer treatment

Turbine – a London-based company with a cell simulation platform that can predict the effectiveness of cancer treatments – has completed a €20m Series A financing round. Mercia and MSD Global Health Innovation (GHI) Fund co-led the financing, joined by Day One Capital and existing investors Accel, Delin Ventures, and XTX Ventures. (MSD is the trade name of Merck & Co., Inc., Rahway N.J., USA.)

Turbine, which is based in London with offices in Cambridge and Budapest, will use the funding to further develop its AI-powered platform, expand its team and develop new commercial partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies.

The Simulated Cell platform offers a computer model of the inner signalling network of cancer cells to provide a deeper understanding of their biology and the potential impact of treatments. It can be used to identify novel cancer therapies, improve the likelihood of success of clinical trials, predict the efficacy of cancer drug combinations and allow existing drugs to be targeted at the patients most likely to benefit.

Turbine works with pharma companies seeking to understand and overcome causes of resistance to therapy and develop new drug treatments. Its technology has already guided the drug development pipelines of Bayer and two other top 20 global pharma companies and has successfully identified dozens of clinically validated drug targets – cancer cell proteins that drugs could target – which would not be spotted using other types of computational approaches.

A spinout of the Technical University of Budapest, Turbine was founded in 2016 by Kristof Szalay, Daniel Veres and Szabolcs Nagy to overcome the limitations of existing methods in identifying targeted treatments to benefit individual patients.

Mercia was investing from its Northern Venture Capital Trust (VCT) funds. Daniela Tsoneva of Mercia said: “Turbine technology addresses historic challenges to drug development and is already validated by early work with large pharma partners. We are excited to support the company as it advances its platform, deepens our collective understanding of cancer biology, and makes drug development more efficient and more successful across the biopharma industry.”

David M. Rubin, Ph.D., Managing Director, MSD Global Health Innovation Fund, added: “MSD GHI looks forward to enabling acceleration of Turbine’s growth and expansion. We believe Turbine’s Simulated Cell has the potential to transform key aspects of the oncology drug discovery and development process, providing insight at scale that will shed light on even the most challenging biological mechanisms.”

Szabolcs Nagy, CEO and co-founder of Turbine, said: “The idea sprung from our frustration that experiments frequently lead to expensive and time-consuming drug development failures. We’ve come a long way since 2016, when a handful of biologists and data scientists bootstrapped a technology to predict experiments better reflecting patients and more likely to translating in the clinic. With over 60 experts across the globe and the support of investors like Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, we’re poised to demonstrate that simulations not only reveal new ways of treating cancer but increase the likelihood of success at every single step towards the clinic.”

Osborne Clark LLP provided legal advice to Turbine on the transaction. Paul Hastings LLP and Green Shoots Consulting advised the MSD Global Health Innovation Fund and Eversheds Sutherland acted for Mercia.