Empirico Inc. announced today that it has entered into a strategic collaboration with Ionis Pharmaceuticals. During the three-year collaboration, Empirico will utilize its Precision Insights Platform, which incorporates huge biological data sets, human genetics and advanced algorithmic approaches, to identify therapeutic targets for indications and tissues that are amenable to Ionis’ industry-leading antisense technology.
Under the terms of the agreement, Ionis can advance up to ten targets identified by Empirico and assume responsibility for all preclinical and clinical development activities. Empirico and Ionis will also work together to incorporate human genetics evidence into ongoing efforts with existing Ionis programs, including work on target validation, indication and biomarker selection, and patient stratification.
Empirico’s Precision Insights Platform was purpose-built for therapeutic target discovery and incorporates one of the largest datasets of its kind in the world to interrogate the role of genes and proteins in health and disease and find opportunities for novel therapeutic interventions. By combining expert data curation, customized data models, and statistical and machine learning algorithms, the platform enables Empirico’s scientists to systematically generate, interrogate, and prioritize high-confidence therapeutic hypotheses that are then validated experimentally.
“Empirico’s approach to human genetics provides a much-needed opportunity to improve the success rate of drug discovery and development by leveraging experiments of nature,” said Omri Gottesman, M.D., CEO of Empirico. “Antisense oligonucleotides are an ideal translational partner for human genetics-focused target discovery, allowing us to precisely mimic or interfere with the mechanisms by which functional genetic variants influence health and disease. We are excited to work with Ionis, the leader in RNA-targeted drug discovery and development, in discovering new medicines for patients in need.”
As part of this new collaboration, Ionis has made a $10 million equity investment in Empirico, with additional near-term commitments of up to $30 million based on operational and preclinical milestones. Empirico will be eligible to receive in excess of $620 million for the achievement of clinical development, regulatory and commercial milestones, and royalties on net sales. Empirico also has the option to license, develop, and commercialize an Ionis development candidate directed toward a collaboration target for which Ionis will receive milestone payments and royalties on net sales.
In connection with this new collaboration, Empirico also announced today the closing of its $17 million Series A-2 financing, led by Ionis and with participation by DCVC Bio and Neotribe Ventures. This was a follow-on round to Empirico’s $12.5 million Series A financing, co-led by DCVC Bio and Neotribe Ventures and completed In November 2018.