With hopes of leveraging its focus on the immune system, Immunai launched out of stealth mode with $20 million in seed funding that will be used to map the entire immune system for better detection, diagnosis, and treatment of disease.
Immunai has begun the process of mapping millions of immune cells and their functions in order to build a proprietary data set for clinical immunological data. The immune system mapping will play an important role in boosting R&D efforts in developing targeted therapies for different diseases. The company noted that the immune system is comprised of trillions of cells that are divided into different cell types that perform different functions. Because of the complexity of the system, it can be difficult to determine how drugs will interact with the immune cells. This increased understanding can be used to boost clinical response to different cellular therapies.
Immunai has developed a vertically-integrated platform for multi-omic single-cell profiling that offers a broader view of the immune system in states of health, disease and treatment to examine the body’s response to stimulus. The fledgling company said its platform can be used by pharmaceutical companies to identify subtle “nuances in cell abundances and cell function and mechanisms of action and biomarkers for toxicity response to accurately measure the efficacy of immunotherapies.” It can also provide greater insights into different sub-populations of clinical trials, the company added.
”When looking at only a specific disease or patient cohort, one gets a limited and siloed view of the immune system,” Noam Solomon, chief executive officer of Immunai said in a statement. “By using machine learning and applying it to our proprietary diverse database of single-sequencing data paired with rich clinical data, our platform identifies common patterns that are not visible when looking at the narrower disease-specific view.”
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Immunai was founded in 2018 by Solomon, a former researcher at Harvard and MIT, and Luis Voloch, who serves as the company’s chief technical officer. Although a young company, it has already published peer-reviewed work in Nature on the origin of tumor-fighting T cells following PD-1 blockade, demonstrating the important findings its immune intelligence can uncover, and has additional publications under review.
“Our mission is to map the immune system with neural networks and transfer learning techniques informed by deep immunology knowledge,” Voloch said in a statement. “We developed the tools and knowhow to help every immuno-oncology and cell therapy researcher excel at their job. This helps increase the speed in which drugs are developed and brought to market by elucidating their mechanisms of action and resistance.”
The company’s $20 million in seed funding was led by Viola Ventures and TLV Partners. Immunai has already forged clinical partnerships with multiple medical centers, as well as partnerships with pharma companies related to cell therapy and checkpoint blockade.