Chinese biotech startup Meta Pharmaceuticals raises $15m to accelerate its pipeline development
META Pharmaceuticals, China's first immunometabolism-based small-molecule drug discovery company, announced two consecutive Seed and Pre-A funding rounds totaling $15 million.
Investors include Forcefield Ventures, XtalPi Inc., IMO Ventures, and Tiantu Capital. In combining cutting-edge discoveries in immunometabolism and artificial intelligence (AI), META Pharmaceuticals has built an AI-powered metabolic target discovery platform and aims to develop the next generation of safer and more effective autoimmune disease medicines based on new biological mechanisms.
The therapeutics market for autoimmune disease is the second-largest segment after cancer treatments, with an estimated 350-450 million patients worldwide. However, currently available medications are developed with biological mechanisms and drug targets with inherent drawbacks that lead to risks of severe side effects, low patient response rates, and many other problems.
Ke Xu, Co-founder and CEO, META Pharmaceuticals: "Thanks to the support of our investors and partners, we were able to reach significant R&D milestones and raise two rounds of financing in just six months. META Pharmaceuticals aspires to become a global leader in immunometabolic drug discovery and expedite the advent of next-generation autoimmune treatments that are safer and more effective for patients worldwide."
Founded by a group of researchers in the emerging field of immunometabolism, META Pharmaceuticals is developing first-in-class drugs with a new mechanism that effectively regulates the immune system by modulating cell metabolism. This strategy that holds the promise of delivering treatment options with stronger potency and fewer side effects for a variety of chronic diseases. It has built a AI-enabled, multi-omics-based target discovery platform for metabolic pathways, dubbed META-Map, that can sift through thousands of metabolic proteases for specific therapeutic effects. The team has identified a series of new druggable targets with first-in-class potential and developed a pipeline with three first-in-class small molecule inhibitors, one of which is a candidate for a broad spectrum of autoimmune diseases and is expected to file for IND in both the US and China as early as 2024.
To accelerate drug discovery, META Pharmaceuticals as formed a close partnership with XtalPi, an AI drug discovery and development platform company. The two AI platforms can create a fast and reliable analytic and validation loop for new therapeutic targets and their mechanisms of action, thus accelerating the translation of new targets into patents and pipeline assets.
Shuhao Wen, Co-founder and Chairman, XtalPi: "META's ability to discover highly promising autoimmune disease targets offers both exciting challenges and valuable insights for our AI drug discovery platform. We look forward to working closely with this team of brilliant scientists and helping them develop a fruitful pipeline of revolutionary immunometabolism-based drugs. "
The new funding will help META accelerate its three candidates toward clinical trials and further expand its proprietary META-map platform to cover more disease areas as it continues to grow its pipeline. META Pharmaceuticals will also expand its team and establish its first biology laboratory in Shenzhen, China, to further strengthen the company's research capabilities in immunometabolism and drive target discovery.