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Omics-Driven Drug Discovery Firm Octant Raises $30M in Series A Financing Round

NEW YORK – Octant, a drug discovery firm seeking to use synthetic biology to find drug targets in complex biological networks, said on Wednesday that it has raised $30 million in Series A financing.

Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz led the round, joined by 8VC, SV Angel, Allen & Co, and several other undisclosed private investors.

"Our discovery platform was designed to map and measure the interconnected relationships between chemicals, multiple drug receptor pathways, and diseases, enabling us to engineer multi-targeted drugs in a more rational way, across a wide spectrum of targets," Octant CEO and Cofounder Sri Kosuri said in a statement. "By assaying massive numbers of drug receptor pathways at previously unthinkable scales, we are building what the biology is telling us the future of drug discovery will require."

Octant also announced that Swab-Seq, its RNA amplicon sequencing protocol, is freely available under the Open COVID Pledge license.

"By querying biology at this unprecedented scale, Octant has the potential to systematically create exhaustive maps of drug targets and corresponding, novel treatments for our most intractable diseases," Jorge Conde, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz and a member of the Octant board of directors, said in a statement.

Octant was cofounded by Kosuri, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Ramsey Homsany, a tech executive with prior experience at Dropbox and Google. The firm's technology platform uses synthetic biology, genome engineering, next-generation sequencing, functional genomics, and computational tools to map the activity of thousands of receptor pathways in human cells, generating datasets and predictive insights that accelerate chemical discovery and optimization. Octant uses genetic barcodes to reveal chemical-receptor activity in a pooled fashion.

The firm aims to find small molecule, multi-target drug leads for multifactorial disease and is focusing its initial work on G-protein coupled receptor signaling networks. Octant is pursuing internal programs, as well as strategic partnerships with pharmaceutical partners.

The company's funding round is the latest investment from Andreessen Horowitz in companies with a genomics streak. The firm led health data firm Q Bio's $40 million Series B financing round earlier this year and participated in cancer blood testing firm Freenome's July 2019 $160 million Series B financing round.