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Profluent Secures $35M Funding Led by Spark Capital to Advance AI-First Protein Design

Profluent, an AI-centric company focused on protein design, has announced the completion of additional funding, bringing their total capital raised to $44 million.
Funding & Investments
Emerging Technologies
March 21, 2024

Profluent, an AI-centric company focused on protein design, has announced the completion of additional funding, bringing their total capital raised to $44 million. Spearheaded by Spark Capital, with participation from existing investors Insight Partners and Air Street Capital, as well as a syndicate of angel investors including figures from OpenAI, Salesforce, Octant Bio, and Google, notably Jeff Dean, Chief Scientist of Google DeepMind, this $35 million financing round signifies a significant milestone for the company. Previously, Profluent had secured $9 million from Insight Partners, Air Street Capital, AIX Ventures, and Convergent Ventures.

“Our research at the forefront of AI has enabled Profluent to create large language models that begin to learn the blueprint of nature,” said Ali Madani, Profluent co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. “We are moving biology from being constrained by what can be discovered in nature to being able to design precisely according to our needs via AI. The science is real and the time is now to proactively create breakthrough medicines that can transform society.”

Profluent's core philosophy revolves around leveraging AI as a tool to transcend traditional limitations in protein engineering. Unlike conventional methods relying on nature's randomness or brute-force experimentation, Profluent's AI models navigate vast combinatorial spaces efficiently, optimizing for multiple functional attributes. This approach represents a paradigm shift from accidental discoveries to deliberate design.

"As they advance the frontier of AI research in the life sciences, Ali and Profluent are making biology programmable for the first time,” said Fraser Kelton, General Partner at Spark Capital and former Head of Product at OpenAI. “I joined OpenAI in 2020 when I realized the events of this past year were inevitable. We’re at the precipice of a similar change in biology. Just as ChatGPT can write compelling essays and emails, Profluent has developed AI that designs entirely new and functional proteins. Having seen firsthand what happens when the frontier of AI is advanced in a field, it was impossible to not be involved with Profluent and support their mission."

"Historically, true disruption has occurred when two cutting-edge technologies intersect. Profluent is bridging AI and CRISPR, leading to previously unseen innovation in the field. We view the transformation of natural enzymes like Cas9 into therapeutics as a significant leap forward, and we intend to build on this progress by custom-designing enzymes for entirely new editing modalities," said Hilary Eaton, Chief Business Officer at Profluent. "The foundation of our business model is partnerships – we’re actively evaluating potential collaborations with companies that are correspondingly best-in-class or innovative within each therapeutic vertical, CRISPR and beyond.”

As part of the funding, Kelton and Nabeel Hyatt, also a General Partner at Spark Capital, will join Profluent's Board of Directors. This infusion of capital will fuel Profluent's growth trajectory, bolstering its AI models, wet lab capabilities, and advancements in CRISPR gene editing. Ultimately, this investment aims to usher in a new era of healthcare by facilitating the development of innovative, functional proteins.

Profluent, co-founded in 2022 by Ali Madani and Alexander Meeske, boasts a seasoned executive team with diverse expertise in machine learning, microbiology, and gene editing. Their groundbreaking technology, validated by a peer-reviewed paper in Nature Biotechnology, heralds a new frontier in protein design, with potential implications for healthcare and disease treatment.

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