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Microsoft-backed iLoF raises £4m for AI drug discovery platform

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Microsoft-backed health tech platform iLoF has raised $5m (£4.1m) for its AI-driven drug discovery and development technology.

Based in Oxford, UK, and Porto, Portugal, iLoF’s digital library of disease biomarkers and biological profiles is used by pharmaceutical firms to speed up the process of clinical trials.

The startup was founded to advance personalised drug discovery, as single treatments do not necessarily work across all patients with a condition.

“For hundreds of years, treatments have been developed with the assumption they will work for everyone,” said iLoF co-founder and CEO Luis Valente.

“However, each person is different, and for many severe diseases such as Alzheimer’s, multiple factors can contribute to the effectiveness of a treatment on a given patient.”

iLoF’s patient data profiles can be selected and screened with its AI platform to increase the efficiency of medication development.

During the pandemic, the company worked with St. John’s Hospital to use its platform to manage the influx of covid patients.

Mehak Mumtaz, co-founder and COO of iLoF, said that the ultimate goal of the company is to move into a disease screening platform so that it can go from “supporting researchers and scientists to directly helping patients around the world”.

The bulk of the funding came in the form of a $4.1m equity investment led by Faber, with participation from Microsoft’s venture fund, Quiet Capital, Lunar Ventures, Alter Venture Partners, and Fluxunit.

A number of angel investors also featured in the round, including former Microsoft GM Charlie Songhurst.

“[iLoF’s] unique combination of photonics and artificial intelligence can both directly impact the fast-growing AI in the drug discovery market and transform the diagnosis, staging, and triage of a myriad of diseases, progressively moving healthcare from a central hospital based-approach into a low-cost, distributed patient-driven approach,” said Faber partner Sofia Santos.

An additional $900,000 of funding for iLoF came via a grant from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).