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Envisagenics Stays Hot With $1.5 Million NIH Grant


The AI and genetics company has been winning competitions and grants at a steady clip this year.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and biotech firm Envisagenics scored a 7-digit endorsement from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this week in the form of a grant that will support the further development of its SpliceCore technology.

SpliceCore is a cloud-based drug discovery platform that leverages AI to detect therapeutic targets for genetic diseases caused by RNA splicing errors, like spinal muscular atrophy, Huntington's Disease, and Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

The company today announced that it has received a $1.5 million Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 2 grant from NIH, which will be delivered over the course of 2 years. Envisagenics says the money will allow it to “substantially expand the [SpliceCore’s] knowledgebase and predictive functions.”

>>READ: Lost in the CRISPR Hype, a Gene-Editing Giant Is Fighting Back

The platform itself was developed in part with a SBIR Phase 1 grant of $225,000, which the team received in 2015.

“We are grateful for the continued support from the NIH and for their recognition of the potential of AI drug discovery platforms like ours to discover novel therapies," Maria Luisa Pineda, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Envisagenics, said. "We're excited for the next stage of growth for the company to leverage the power of AI and RNA-seq data internally and in collaboration with biopharma partners to unlock new treatments."

SpliceCore officially launched as a commercial product in the fall of 2017, and a little more than a month later the Envisagenics received $2.35 million in venture capital seed funding. That was followed by another $1 million investment, announced earlier this month. M12—formerly Microsoft Ventures—and Madrona Venture Group awarded the money after Envisagenics was declared the North American winner of the Innovate.AI Global Startup Competition.

"Envisagenics' SpliceCore platform is shrinking a process that has traditionally taken years into minutes by leveraging the power of the cloud and AI to reduce complexity and pave a path to innovation for therapeutic solutions,” M12’s corporate vice president and global head Nagraj Kashyap said at the time.

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