Seismic Therapeutic raises $121 million in funding to accelerate immunology drug development using machine learning

Research published on the NIH website reveals a daunting statistic: nine out of ten new drug candidates fail to navigate through clinical trials and gain regulatory approval. The findings further underscore the substantial challenges: a staggering 90% failure rate in clinical drug development.

In response to this formidable hurdle, biotech startups are actively leveraging the power of AI and machine learning to streamline the drug development process, aiming to expedite the delivery of new treatments to patients while minimizing costs. One of the foremost companies in this space is Seismic Therapeutic, a Cambridge, MA-based biotech startup leading a major transformation in the discovery and development of immunology therapies, harnessing the capabilities of machine learning to redefine traditional approaches.

Today, Seismic Therapeutic announced it has closed a $121 million Series B funding led by new investor Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from other new investors, Amgen Ventures, Codon Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments.

Other backers in this round include Gaingels and GC&H, as well as existing investors, Timothy A. Springer, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Polaris Partners, Boxer Capital, GV, Samsara BioCapital, and management and founders.

Seismic Therapeutic will use the fresh capital infusion to advance its two primary programs through clinical proof-of-mechanism, while also supporting the ongoing expansion of its biologics pipeline and the enhancement of its IMPACT platform

Seismic Therapeutic plans to use the fresh capital injection to move forward with its two main programs, taking them through clinical proof-of-mechanism. Additionally, the funding will play a crucial role in supporting the continuous growth of its biologics pipeline and the improvement of its IMPACT platform.

Its primary programs include the pan-immunoglobulin (Ig) G protease sculpting (Sc) enzyme candidate (S-1117) and the PD-1 agonist:Fc gamma receptor IIb selective Dual-cell Bidirectional (DcB) antibody candidate (S-4321).

The startup also plans to use the funding proceeds to sustain the expansion of its pipeline in both the IgSc and DcB product domains, extending beyond the initial lead programs. The financial backing will also empower the company to broaden its proprietary IMPACT platform, incorporating cutting-edge methods facilitated by machine learning to enhance the process of biologics drug discovery in the field of immunology.

In conjunction with the funding, Seismic Therapeutic also announced that Andrew Hedin, MBA, biotech and healthcare partner of Bessemer Venture Partners, will join its board of directors.

“Seismic has made impressive achievements in a short time integrating the power of machine learning with its deep drug development expertise to create two differentiated lead programs, each offering a compelling opportunity to address unmet medical needs in autoimmune diseases in a new way,” Hedin said. “We look forward to collaborating with the Seismic team to realize the full potential of its unique approach to immunology drug development, enabled by machine learning.”

Since its inception and the closing of its Series A funding round, Seismic has made significant progress in advancing two programs into IND-enabling studies. This achievement is attributed to Seismic’s incorporation of cutting-edge machine learning into drug development, with a specific focus on biologics for immunology. The success is powered by a diverse team comprising both drug developers and innovators in machine learning.

In the case of its leading IgSc enzyme program, Seismic employed groundbreaking techniques to engineer novel pan-IgG proteases. These proteases exhibit reduced immunogenicity for both B cells and T cells, along with fewer chemical liabilities. Importantly, they maintain enzyme activity and stability, resulting in a therapeutic protease designed to target multiple pathogenic mechanisms within a single drug. This approach aims to address both acute and chronic autoantibody-mediated diseases.

For its lead DcB antibody program, Seismic’s design focuses on optimizing the targeting of various cell types implicated in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases. The program engages T cells through PD-1 agonism and antigen-presenting cells via the inhibitory Fc gamma receptor, demonstrating a strategic approach to address the complexities of autoimmune diseases.

In a statement, Seismic Therapeutic Founder, President and CEO, Jo Viney, said: “We are delighted to secure the support of such a strong syndicate of investors who believe in Seismic’s ability to pioneer a new era of immunology drug development integrating machine learning.”

Viney added, “This financing enables us to continue our momentum and advance both of our exciting lead programs into the clinic. We believe the time is right to harness advances in machine learning to discover the next generation of biologics drugs to improve the lives of patients with autoimmune diseases.”