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‘ChatGPT for molecule discovery’: Belfast spinout secures £1.4m grant funding

AMPLY co-founders. Image credit: AMPLY

Belfast-based AI drug discovery startup AMPLY has raised £1.4m in grant funding as it gears up for its second pre-seed round.

Founded in 2021, AMPLY is a spinout from Queen’s University Belfast. The company uses a proprietary AI model that it says reduces the cost of discovering new drugs.

The startup is using AI to meet the needs of clinicians and pharmaceutical companies, which are increasingly facing diseases and infections that are resistant to the current supply of antibiotics. AMPLY has described itself as a “ChatGPT for molecule discovery”.

The grant funding will be supplied for two separate R&D programmes from AMPLY. The first is focused on RNAi therapies to tackle highly genetically mediated cancers – which has landed the company £835,000 – and the second is focused on inhaled antimicrobial therapies and has been awarded £602,000.

Both projects’ grant funding came from Innovate UK, with the first also receiving additional support from the Swiss innovation agency Innosuisse.

“This new funding will further help AMPLY to realise its ambition of democratising the discovery of new therapeutics by building a transformative Drug Discovery Studio which leverages the raw power of evolution to unearth new medicines from nature’s huge untapped reservoir,” said Dr Ben Thomas, AMPLY co-founder and CEO.

Dermot Tierney, fellow co-founder and COO, added: “As a drug discovery studio which discovers and develops de novo first-in-class drug candidates for downstream out-licensing this funding will significantly enhance our pipeline of license-ready assets.”

AMPLY raised its first batch of pre-seed funding in 2022 from the Co-fund NI, along with Queen’s University Belfast’s innovation fund, the Helix Way Partnership and angel investors.

The company aims to secure an additional £1.4m in equity funding in the second quarter of the year.