Brendan Frey

Prof. Brendan Frey, Deep Genomics / Photo credit: Jeffrey Beardall

Deep Genomics, the Toronto startup looking to use artificial intelligence to discover new drugs for genetic disorders, has landed a $13 million private financing led by Silicon Valley venture capitalist firm Kholsa Ventures. 

Led by professor Brendan Frey, the company has developed a software system called “Saturn” which it will use to search across 69 billion molecules to identify 1,000 synthesized compounds that can be used to manipulate the makeup of cells.

“Because of the quality of their science and engineering team and the deep integration of their AI technology into their pre-clinical drug development pipeline, we are confident that a very large potential [to discover new therapies] exists here,” said Khosla Ventures’ billionaire founder Vidon Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. 

Deep Genomics’ idea is to target new types of therapies that have been previously inaccessible to researchers, and to apply the resulting molecule in clinical research, hoping they will eventually be developed into new drugs for genetics ailments. In other words, the company is using the power of AI to speed up and solve the search for the proverbial needle in the haystack. 

“We are aiming to flip medicine on its back and do something completely different,” said Deep Genomics founder Brenda Frey, 49, who studied at U of T under machine learning pioneer Geoffrey Hinton.