In the medical world of drug discovery, this innovative tech startup, Pepper Bio is poised to challenge the conventional trajectory with a fresh infusion of funding. Emerging as a beacon of hope in the face of Eroom’s law – the reverse of Moore’s law – which dictates the escalating costs and time associated with drug development, Pepper Bio is embarking on a groundbreaking journey.
Based in Boston, Pepper Bio stands as the world’s premier transomics company, transcending the buzzword status often associated with AI in the biotech landscape. While AI holds promise, Pepper Bio’s CEO, Jon Hu, underscores the critical role of quality data, emphasizing that the effectiveness of AI analysis is contingent on the data fed into the system. In this context, “transomics”, a term gaining prominence, incorporates various layers such as DNA, RNA, proteomic data, and phosphoproteomic data.
Chief Scientist Officer Samantha Dale Strasser elucidates the significance of this multidimensional approach, likening it to a comprehensive mapping system akin to Google Maps. Pepper Bio aims not merely at multi-omics but a holistic transomics approach, emphasizing the importance of the full picture in drug discovery.
Navigating the complex landscape of drug discovery is a formidable task, with Pepper Bio acknowledging an overall failure rate of over 96%. However, armed with transomics, the startup seeks to enhance the odds of success before the costly clinical trial phase, garnering interest from pharmaceutical giants.
In its recent seed round, Pepper Bio secured $6.5 million in funding, with NFX leading the charge alongside participants like Merck, Silverton Partners, Mana Ventures, Tensility Ventures, and VSC Ventures. Merck’s involvement is facilitated through Merck Digital Sciences Studio, providing Pepper Bio with a valuable platform for in-depth discussions without compromising project-level access or data confidentiality.
Pepper Bio’s dual focus involves collaborative efforts with industry partners, addressing inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases, and an internal pipeline centered on oncology. The seed funding is a strategic step toward progressing on both fronts and positioning the company for subsequent funding rounds.
Hu emphasizes the need for strategic acquisitions or options to acquire specific assets as a precursor to the next funding round. Collaborations with partners extend beyond conventional pharmaceutical firms, with Pepper Bio also engaging with Stanford’s Felsher Lab to identify and validate therapeutic targets for lymphatic and liver cancers. The common thread binding these efforts is the transomics signature, offering a nuanced and targeted approach to drug discovery.
While a singular solution for curing all diseases remains elusive to so many, the innovative strides taken by startups like Pepper Bio underscore a shift toward novel approaches in the quest for effective treatments, backed by a surge in fresh capital infusions.