🚀 Qubit Pharmaceuticals closes a pre-seed round with Quantonation

Portfolio16 June 2020

Qubit Pharmaceuticals announced the closing of a pre-seed round that will support the market entry of its first platform, ATLAS, a software suite for the discovery and test of drug candidates running on supercomputers to codesign new drugs with pharma and biotech companies.

From approximation to prediction of molecular properties for better drugs

Despite the investment of tens of billions of dollars annually, the development of new therapeutic molecules remains expensive, time-consuming and risky. In Silico drug discovery already accelerates the pace of R&D but the precise and accurate simulation of molecules and their interaction with targets has been so far hampered by the complexity of the physics involved at the microscopic level. Thanks to major advances in molecular modelling taking into account highly complex quantum effects, Qubit Pharmaceuticals can perform precise and accurate calculations such as finding a drug binding site, predicting the binding of a drug to its target etc. up to 1 000 000 times faster than traditional high-resolution solutions. Qubit Pharmaceuticals will solve 3 key problems in the field: quality of predictions, interpretability and speed of simulations generating improvement and acceleration of therapeutic pipelines.

Biopharma companies that take the right approach to quantum computing now may gain a lasting advantage according to an analysis of the Boston Consulting Group

Qubit Pharmaceuticals has the vision to become a world leader in quantum-assisted drug development. The company is already taking full advantage of the spectacular improvement in the computing power of supercomputers thanks to its algorithms inspired by quantum physics that run on the most powerful computers in the world. It is establishing partnerships with suppliers of next generation processors in order to develop hybrid classical — quantum approaches within the next five years and full quantum approaches as soon as hardware will be available, which will allow to produce better results faster.

COVID-19: display of the Spike (S) protein interacting with the human ACE-2 cellular receptor (in grey). The picture is extracted from High Performance Computing simulations performed by the Sorbonne University team led by Qubit Pharmaceuticals founder Jean-Philip Piquemal, using the Jean Zay supercomputer and the Tinker-HP and VTX softwares (both to be part of the Qubit Pharmaceuticals Atlas software package). Source: Genci, picture credit: Université de Limoges/CNAM

4 Academic labs across the Atlantic, 2 European Research Council grants, the Atos Joseph Fourier Prize and over 15 years of common history

Qubit Pharmaceuticals is the result of the spin-off of the research work of 5 internationally renowned scientists[1] in the United States and in France, collaborating together on the science and the technology for more than 15 years, all 5 providing scientific support to the company. Major technological breakthroughs recently discovered by the founders of the company have been awarded numerous prizes: 2 ERCs (Synergy 2018 and Starting Grant in 2015) and the Atos Joseph Fourier prize in 2018. The use of their technology in the fight to find a cure against COVID-19 convinced the founders to create the company in order to apply their platform to other diseases.

Computing nodes of supercomputer Jean Zay (ranked 46 in HPC top 500) used to run simulations by the team at Qubit Pharmaceuticals. Source: Cyril Fresillon/IDRIS/CNRS Photothèque.

Jean-Philip Piquemal, Chief Scientist of Qubit Pharmaceuticals, said: “Qubit Pharmaceuticals represents more than 15 years of join work from the founding academic groups in France and in the United States. It brings to the Industry a new generation of fast and predictive quantum inspired molecular modelling tools coupled to new High Performance Computing acceleration and visualization strategies enabling enhanced molecular simulations.”

Robert Marino, Qubit Pharmaceuticals CEO added: ”With Atlas and the other tools we develop, we aim to halve the time and cost of preclinical development. Thanks to the predictive power of our tools we want to become the trusted third party for companies in their R&D development. Atlas is a real revolution, the result of a risky but successful gamble, which requires mathematicians and physicists to work together to ensure the robustness of the calculations, HPC specialists to massively accelerate calculations and drug development experts to succeed in finding valuable candidates and understanding data. Without this interdisciplinarity and the scientific excellence of the founders, we would never have been able to achieve such results.

Venture Capital fund Quantonation has worked closely with the team to bring the founders’ project to maturity.Quantonation Partner Christophe Jurczak said: “Quantum computing is an emerging technology with the potential to transform many industries, with biopharma and materials among the most promising. But the pathway to practical application remains under construction and it is clear to us that successful players on the quantum computing software need to be at the forefront of classical computing too ! That’s one of the reasons why we were seduced by the team at Qubit Pharmaceuticals, a unique combination of top experts in quantum physics, chemistry, and high-performance computing. This team has been working on the modeling of the dynamics of objects as large as viruses, they are the best positioned to make the most of emerging quantum computers.”

Qubit Pharmaceuticals is already attracting interest from industry. It’s a laureate of the EIT Health Headstart Program and has joined the Paris Biotech Santé incubator.

[1] Laboratoire de Chimie Théorique, Sorbonne Université — CNRS ; Laboratoire Génomique, Bioinformatique, et Applications du CNAM ; Ponder Lab, Washington University in St Louis ; Computational Biomolecular Engineering Lab, University of Texas in Austin.

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