This Cambridge AI drug startup raises £33M to tackle ‘undruggable’ diseases


The Cambridge, UK-based AI drug startup – PhoreMost has recently secured £33m funding in oversubscribed Series B funding round. The funding will push the PLK1 program for the treatment of brain cancer in the clinic within 18 months.

The round was led by the UK’s most active growth economy investor – BGF and new investors XtalPi Inc., Astellas Venture Management, Trend Investment Group, and o2h ventures. Existing investors Parkwalk Advisors, Morningside Ventures, and Jonathan Milner also contributed.

Following the investment round, Dr Catherine Beech will assume the Chair of PhoreMost’s Board of Directors, succeeding Dr Jonathan Milner who will stay on the Board as an NED. Catherine joined PhoreMost as Non-Executive Director in February 2020. Also joining the Board are Tim Rea, investor at BGF, Alan Jiang, Chief Strategy Officer of XtalPi, and Neil Pegg representing Morningside Ventures.

PhoreMost raised £11M in Series A round of funding in 2018, post which they expanded their SITESEEKER platform capabilities to drug discovery and target discovery.

PhoreMost’s SITESEEKER platform identifies new therapeutic targets for any chosen disease setting and quickly identifies how to develop novel drugs for these targets. It increases the capabilities of novel drug treatment for cancer and other unmet diseases. The company deployed the platform for progression of novel therapies for oncology and diseases of ageing, and developing novel therapeutic modalities in the targeted protein degradation space.

Dr Chris Torrance CEO, PhoreMost, commented: “We are thrilled to include this exceptional group of investors in PhoreMost’s Series B funding round. We are grateful for the continued support of existing investors and are delighted to welcome BGF, alongside strategic investors XtalPi with whom we have a highly valued ongoing research collaboration, and Astellas Venture Management.

PhoreMost claims to be at an incredibly exciting phase of development, having made tremendous progress since the Series A funding. “Our lead ‘Allosteric PLK1’ asset is well-positioned for clinical entry and our SITESEEKER platform has made valuable discoveries within the targeted protein degradation, oncology and ageing fields. This funding now positions PhoreMost well to prosecute asset development across these high value therapeutic areas.”

“I would like to thank the PhoreMost team and all of our partner organisations for helping us to achieve such excellent progress toward realising our important mission. I also welcome Catherine Beech to the PhoreMost Chair and thank our outgoing Chair Jonathan Milner for his exceptional stewardship over the past five years.”

Tim Rea, investor, BGF, said: “The team at BGF has been actively engaged in expanding our support for life sciences companies in the UK and we are excited to join the PhoreMost team on the next phase of their journey. The Company’s SITESEEKER technology is highly differentiated, addressing an important market need in the identification of novel drug sites within targets previously considered undruggable. We have been consistently impressed with the strong and experienced management team, and we believe PhoreMost is now in an ideal position to capitalise on the potential of its lead asset and innovative pipeline.”

Dr Catherine Beech, Chair, PhoreMost, said: “Since joining PhoreMost’s Board I have continued to be impressed by the progress the Company has made, both in terms of its own internal programmes as well as with a range of strategic collaborations. I am honoured to be appointed as Chair and look forward to working even more closely with Chris and the team during this exciting time for PhoreMost.”

Dr Alan Jiang, CSO of XtalPi, said: “XtalPi and PhoreMost share the same goal of addressing bottleneck challenges in biopharmaceutical research with innovative technologies. We are excited to support PhoreMost in fulfilling its mission and further strengthen the collaboration between our platforms with complementary capabilities. PhoreMost’s expertise in identifying and validating valuable novel targets, combined with XtalPi’s advantage in using AI to discover and design drug molecules for challenging biding sites, will allow us to generate pipeline assets more efficiently, particularly in underserved therapeutic areas, to the ultimate benefit of patients with few or no treatment options.”

Alastair Kilgour, Chief Investment Officer, Parkwalk Advisors, said: “PhoreMost’s technology has the potential to significantly increase the diversity of novel therapeutics for cancer and other unmet diseases, where treatment options are currently severely limited, and therefore improve the lives of millions suffering with untreated conditions. Since our original investment we have been impressed by the whole PhoreMost team, who have gone from strength to strength. It made perfect sense for us to follow on that original investment and help them accelerate, grow, and continue to meet this important challenge.”