NEW YORK – Meliora Therapeutics on Thursday closed an $11 million seed funding round led by HOF Capital and ZhenFund.
Other participants in the financing included Obvious Ventures, Village Global, BrightEdge, Pebblebed, Axial, and Olive Capital. Individual investors Michael Polansky, cofounder of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy and ArsenalBio, and Wes Sterman, founding investor for Gilead, also participated.
Menlo Park, California-based Meliora, founded in 2021, has developed a machine learning-based platform, called AnchorOmics, that aims to help drugmakers better understand their drugs' mechanism of action in the drug discovery stage. The firm is also building an "atlas" that maps drug mechanisms and how they affect cancer biology, and AnchorOmics can match a drug's molecular makeup to mechanisms of action included in the atlas.
The firm will use the seed funding to accelerate development of AnchorOmics and expand Meliora's team and operations, according to Meliora CEO David Li. The firm has already built an atlas prototype that can identify the correct mechanism of action for small molecule drugs. The funding will help Meliora build a proprietary data moat and select mischaracterized scaffolds as starting points in its precision therapeutic programs. The firm is also aiming to build partnerships with industry.
Ultimately, Meliora is hoping its mechanism-of-action "atlas" will lower attrition in drug trials. In cancer, only around 3 percent of clinical trials are successful and mischaracterization of the drugs' mechanisms of action is a big factor, the company said.
"Modern cancer drug development is often not mechanism driven, leading to clinical development failures down the line," Li said in a statement. "Meliora is using a novel molecular fingerprint matching method to determine the true mechanism of action of precision cancer therapies. By using machine learning to connect mechanism of action with specific therapeutic molecules, we will increase the overall probability of success."