SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Verge Genomics, a tech-enabled drug discovery company pioneering the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and human data to develop new drugs, announced today it has closed an oversubscribed $98 million equity financing. The Series B financing was led by funds managed by BlackRock and supported by new healthcare and technology investors, including Eli Lilly and Company, Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (Merck GHI), Section 32, and Vulcan Capital, alongside Verge’s existing investors, including Threshold Ventures, ALS Investment Fund, Tao Capital Partners, Lifeforce Capital, and others.
“We are thrilled that multiple stakeholders in our space, from leading pharmaceutical companies to healthcare and technology investors, recognize the potential of our human-centric AI platform to transform drug discovery for the most challenging diseases of our generation,” said Alice Zhang, co-founder and CEO of Verge Genomics. “Our platform has demonstrated its ability to identify novel targets from human datasets for these diseases and rapidly develop them into proprietary clinical candidates. With our Series B completed, the quality and breadth of our shareholder base allows us to validate our platform in the clinic. The addition of new clinical datasets has the potential to dramatically improve our self-reinforcing learning platform and accelerate us towards our mission of developing better drugs, faster.”
Verge has built an end-to-end, AI-driven drug discovery platform that includes one of the field’s largest proprietary genomic datasets from human brain tissue. Since its Series A in 2018, Verge has become one of the first AI-enabled drug discovery companies to discover a novel target and develop it internally into a proprietary clinical candidate entirely using its platform. In July 2021, the company announced a $706 million partnership with Lilly to develop new treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) using its platform. Funding from the Series B will be used to exponentially grow the number of preclinical and clinical programs in Verge’s pipeline and advance its lead programs through clinical testing. Additionally, Verge will continue to expand its proprietary technology to enable improvements in many steps of the drug discovery process including translational medicine and clinical development.
“Exponential improvements in technology are converging to create an inflection point in drug development,” said William Abecassis, BlackRock’s Head of Innovation Capital. “Verge has uniquely positioned itself to harness this opportunity, having developed both a world-class AI discovery platform and the most comprehensive neurodegenerative genomic database of human patients in the world. Together with their team of prominent leaders in neuroscience, we are excited to be supporting them in shaping the next era of technology-enabled drug development.”
David M. Rubin, PhD., Managing Director of Merck GHI added: “Identifying better targets is one of the critical challenges faced in drug discovery today. The speed with which Verge advanced their lead program underscores the platform’s potential to develop new candidates with greater efficiency. We are pleased to be joining this financing alongside experts from pharma, healthcare and technology who share the belief that Verge’s platform has the potential to deliver life-changing medicines to patients.”
About Verge Genomics
Verge uses artificial intelligence and human data to develop better drugs faster for large unmet diseases. Verge has built an end-to-end drug discovery and development platform, featuring one of the field’s largest and most comprehensive proprietary patient genomics datasets in neuroscience. Verge applies machine learning to reveal new targets from human datasets and develops drugs with greater probabilities of success using its human-centric biology and chemistry platforms.
Verge is the first AI-enabled drug discovery company to internally develop a clinical candidate from a novel target discovered from its platform. Verge has further demonstrated the power of its platform by delivering a broad preclinical and discovery pipeline spanning diverse therapeutic areas, with its first program entering the clinic in 2022. The company is led by experienced drug developers and computational biologists with a shared belief that technology has created a new opportunity to deliver life-changing medicines more efficiently.
About Merck Global Health Innovation Fund
Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (Merck GHI) is evolving corporate healthcare venture capital globally by utilizing their healthcare ecosystem strategy. This investment strategy connects innovative companies with complementary technologies to develop integrated healthcare solutions. Merck GHI has $500M under management and provides growth capital to emerging healthcare technology companies worldwide while leveraging the vast R&D-based, global resources of Merck. With a vision that data will be the currency in healthcare, Merck GHI invests broadly in digital health. Merck GHI invests in platform companies with proven technologies or business models where Merck’s expertise and perspectives can accelerate revenue growth and enhance value creation. Since late 2010, Merck GHI has made over 50 investments in Digital Health companies. www.merckghifund.com
Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick LLP and Green Shoots Consulting, LLC acted as advisors to Merck GHI in connection with the Verge Genomics transaction.