Seismic shakes up $121m for AI-designed immunology drugs

Seismic's Jo Viney

Jo Viney, Seismic's founder, president and CEO

Seismic Therapeutics has raised $121 million in second-round financing that will be used to take its two lead drugs through early-stage clinical testing.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Seismic is developing a pipeline of biologic drugs to treat immunological diseases based on its IMPACT machine learning (ML) platform, which brings together structural biology, protein engineering, and translational immunology with the aim of speeding up the time to generate lead candidates.

The biotech’s R&D programmes are focused on two areas, immunoglobulin sculpting (IgSc) enzymes designed to modify the activity of antibodies that are associated with diseases, and dual-cell bidirectional (DcB) antibodies that are used to boost immune checkpoints that dampen down the immune response.

The cash injection will be used for lead IgSc candidate S-1117 for the treatment of acute and chronic auto-antibody-mediated diseases and DcB drug S-4321, which acts as an agonist of PD-1, a well-known inhibitory checkpoint receptor on T-cells.

According to Jo Viney – Seismic’s founder, president, and chief executive, who was formerly head of R&D at Pandion, which was acquired by MSD/Merck & Co in 2021 – said that the new funding will support the company’s efforts to “pioneer a new era of immunology drug development integrating machine learning.”

“This financing enables us to continue our momentum and advance both of our exciting lead programs into the clinic,” said Viney, who has previously worked at both Amgen and Biogen. “We believe the time is right to harness advances in machine learning to discover the next generation of biologics drugs to improve the lives of patients with autoimmune diseases.”

Along with the clinical trials for S-1117 and S4321, Seismic will use the Series B proceeds to continue the development of the IMPACT platform and advance additional IgSc and DcB drugs into development. The company’s Series A financing raised $101 million in early 2022.

The Series B was led by new investor Bessemer Venture Partners, with participation from other new backers Amgen Ventures, Codon Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, Gaingels, and GC&H. Also participating were existing investors, Timothy A. Springer, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Polaris Partners, Boxer Capital, GV, and Samsara BioCapital, as well as management and founders.

As a consequence of the financing, Bessemer biotech and healthcare partner Andrew Hedin has been appointed to Seismic’s board of directors.

“Seismic has made impressive achievements in a short time, integrating the power of machine learning with its deep drug development expertise to create two differentiated lead programmes, each offering a compelling opportunity to address unmet medical needs in autoimmune diseases in a new way,” said Hedin.