In-silico: replacing lab dishes by chips

“In-silico” is an expression used to run experiments simulating things on computers. This method, besides having the potential to speed the rate of discovery and reduce the costs of expensive lab work and clinical trials, has the benefit of avoiding animal experiments, for example in pharmacology. Inspired by Materials Project, which provides open web-based access to computer information on predicted materials, we looked at results via Mergeflow searching for <in-silico | “in silico”>.

Articles related to the search terms

Mergeflow shows that from 2013 until today, there has been quite a few articles regarding this not-well-known topic. Let’s see more in details the most recent ones:

– In May 2017, Medgadget revealed that researchers from Rice University in Texas and University of Pisa in Italy built a prototype system, which provides real-time feedback about the size of an object that a powered prosthetic hand is grasping. The developed techology relied on virtual in-silico testing and simple grippers that don’t replicate a true prosthetic. In this video, you can see exactly how this technology works.

– In May 2017, Shuxing Zhang, a researcher in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Texas, led a lab dedicated to computer-assisted drug design and discovery of novel targeted therapeutic agents. As confirmed by the researcher, in-silico virtual screening is an invaluable tool, especially in the early stages of drug discovery. Moreover, it gives a clear picture of what types of molecules may, or may not, bind to a receptor. For your own curiosity, you find more information in this blog post.

VC-funded companies

The chart above shows the sizes and distribution of VC events from 2015 until 2017.

– The most recent investment dates back to September 2016, when Cyclica, a Canadiam in-silico drug discovery company, received $2.4M in a funding round led by GreenSky. Cyclica’s pre-clinical insights and in-silica predictions is improving patient outcomes with less side effects.

– Agenovir is an American company that uses computationally engineered technology to develop novel antiviral therapeutics. In May 2016, the company raised $10.6M in funding. Their goal is using simulated in silico at massive scale to disrupt intracellular viral DNA. By interfering at the level of DNA, it may be possible to treat and eliminate persistent viral reservoirs for which there are no current treatments.

Other companies related to in-silicon

Surprisingly, Mergeflow show that there are many companies related to our search term. The bigger size shows that the term “in-silicon” has been used more often related to those companies, and it might also be a sign that these companies play an important role in the industry. After researching more in details, this is what we found out:

Novadiscovery, a Lyon-based company, has developed a predictive analytics platform to support biopharmaceutical R&D and provide the right drug for the right patient at the right price. Their methodological standard for in-silico trials has received the stamp of approval of major US and European agencies.

Micar21 provides a wide variety of custom services, which range from in silico drug design to genetic screen analysis and other fields of biotechnology industries. The company offers a combination of the most advanced approches currently used for screening new lead compounds or for an examination of the potential toxicity of already known chemicals.

Repository matrix

Last but not least, for this specific search, Mergeflow’s repository matrix seems to have found a reasonable amount of interesting data: companies, displayed in alphabetical order, are clearly connected to specific investor news, funded research projects, financial market news, scientific publications, and other sources. It’s interesting to notice how certain companies, for example Affymetrix, seem to be quite active in this topic (particularly in research papers and scientific publications) but not yet widely known, as we do not find them in the top companies in industry news or financial market news. Differently, 23andMe, famously known for its direct-to-consumer genetic testing products, is mentioned in technology blogs but it’s apparently not among the most active companies in R&D.