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AI biology start-up EvolutionaryScale raises £112.1 million

Written by Wed 26 Jun 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) start-up, EvolutionaryScale, has announced they have received £112.1 million ($142 million) in seed funding to drive forward their ‘ChatGPT moment for biology’.

The funding round was led by Nat Friedman, Daniel Gross, and Lux Capital and is also backed by backed by Amazon Web Services and the venture capital arm of NVIDIA.

Coinciding with the funding announcement, EvolutionaryScale also said they have created the first large language model (LLM) for creating novel proteins. The goal of the AI firm is to see the technology being used in countless biological areas, including boosting drug discovery to engineering microbes.

“ESM3 takes a step toward a future of biology where AI is a tool to engineer from first principles, the way we engineer structures, machines, and microchips, and write computer programmes,”said Alexander Rives Chief Scientist at EvolutionaryScale.

Rives said EvolutionaryScale has been developing this technology for quite a while and is eager to share it with the scientific community to see their response.

Using a data set of almost 2.8 billion proteins taken from around the world, with 1 trillion teraflops of computing power, ESM3 is said to be the first generative AI model for biology that is able to simultaneously reason over the sequence, structure, and function of proteins.

In an example given by EvolutionaryScale, the firm were able to engineer a novel fluorescent protein that would have taken around 500 million years to evolve naturally. Due to the strong potential this form of technology poses, some experts are concerned about the ability for AI to support the creation of damaging bioweapons that could harm humanity.

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Written by Wed 26 Jun 2024

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