Welcoming 1910 Genetics to the M12 Portfolio

Headshot of Jen Nwankwo, Ph.D. Founder & CEO of 1910 Genetics Headshot of Jen Nwankwo, Ph.D. Founder & CEO of 1910 Genetics
We are thrilled to welcome 1910 Genetics (1910) to the M12 portfolio. 1910 is a biotechnology company that is integrating AI, computation, and biology lab automation with a core mission to discover and develop many highly needed therapies and get them to patients faster. Drug discovery is in the early stages of evolving from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age. Just as Moore’s Law predicted the growth trajectory of computational power for 60+ years, Eroom’s Law (Moore spelled backwards) is the observation that biopharmaceutical R&D productivity has been on an exponentially declining trajectory for the last 70 years. Despite major advances in biomedical science, getting new therapies to patients has consistently increased in time, cost, and risk. Today, the average therapy takes over 10 years, costs $1B+, and has a probability of <10% to make it from discovery to regulatory approval.

1910 is a biotechnology company that is integrating AI, computation, and biology lab automation with a core mission to discover and develop many highly needed therapies and get them to patients faster."

The biopharmaceutical industry is projected to spend ~$200B in R&D in 2021. One overarching reason for this trend is the industry’s continued reliance on Industrial Age processes — built before the emergence of AI — that are not closed data loop systems, able to learn, iterate, and improve. Therefore, advances in data capture, machine learning, and computation will be increasingly important drivers in reversing this trend. 1910 is uniquely positioned to help reverse Eroom’s Law by effectively applying the latest technologies in these areas to generate novel drug candidates better, faster, cheaper.

1910’s integrated drug discovery system is exceptionally unique:

1. This system performs the early drug discovery process end-to-end.

2. It consists of four purpose-built AI platforms and a biology lab automation platform — integrated together into a closed data loop and designed to identify drug candidates through multiple approaches.

3. 1910 will be one of the only companies capable of both small molecule and protein therapeutic discovery.

4. The system has repeatedly proven its effectiveness. 1910 recently identified two potent, novel drug candidates that block the entry of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into host cells. CEO and Founder Dr. Nwankwo spoke about her team’s discoveries at the 2020 NIH Antiviral Summit convened by Dr. Anthony Fauci. Their work was also cited in a recent Science article.

In addition to the company’s technology, 1910’s leadership is world-class. I’m proud to have known Dr. Nwankwo professionally for almost a decade. As an R&D scientist at Novartis 12 years ago, I worked across the very same drug discovery processes that 1910 Genetics aims to disrupt. I later met Jen in 2012 — then a PhD student — when I spoke at Tufts University School of Medicine. There, we connected over a shared sense of duty to apply our respective PhDs to help patients. Since then, she has won my deep admiration for staying true to her passions and for her strong drive.

1910 is uniquely positioned to help reverse Eroom’s Law by effectively applying the latest technologies in these areas to generate novel drug candidates better, faster, cheaper."

As a PhD student, Jen was passionate about her research on Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) — a disease that afflicts 100,000 Americans, disproportionately of African and Latinx descent — and her PhD research led to the discovery of a novel drug target. Dr. Nwankwo went on to found 1910 (named after the year SCD was identified as a disease), validate a beta version of its technology using the very drug target that she discovered as a PhD student, and present research on the identified drug candidate at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Conference. She accomplished this just four years after she presented the drug target at the same conference.

Dr. Nwankwo single-handedly got 1910 accepted into Y Combinator and then accepted into the prestigious LabCentral life science incubator in Cambridge. Along the way, she gained mentorship and Seed financing from notable investors including Sam Altman, who went on to write a Forbes article in 2020 framing 1910 in the same league of innovators as Tesla and Ginkgo Bioworks. Dr. Nwankwo assembled an all-star team of advisors that includes Dr. George Golumbeski (famous as one of the most prolific biopharma deal-makers of the last decade) and three Big Pharma veteran medicinal chemists (with 70+ years of combined experience) to support the development of 1910’s AI-driven drug discovery engines. She has built a strong, interdisciplinary, core team of AI research scientists, machine learning engineers, computational chemists, assay biologists, and software engineers from top institutions including Harvard, MIT, Tufts, and Johns Hopkins.

1910 Genetics plans to use this round of financing to scale their AI and biology lab automation platforms, continue to grow their team, expand their partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies, and build a pipeline of therapeutic programs. We’re proud to co-lead this round with Playground Global.

Congratulations to the 1910 Genetics team on emerging from stealth and completing a successful Series A round. It’s personally meaningful to me to be working with my friend, colleague, and mentor Samir Kumar, a managing director at M12, to support 1910 on its important mission going forward.

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