Unnatural Products, Inc. Announces $32 Million in Series A Funding Led by Merck Global Health Innovation Fund and ARTIS Ventures

UNP’s AI-enhanced platform creates entirely new drugs by engineering synthetic molecules to mimic nature’s macrocycles

Santa Cruz, CA, Dec. 19, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Unnatural Products, Inc. (UNP), a biotech company pairing AI with chemistry to usher in the next generation of molecularly targeted therapeutics, has announced $32 million in Series A funding, led by Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (MGHIF) and TechBio-focused ARTIS Ventures. Other new investors include First Spark Ventures, The Venture Collective, Humain Ventures, LongeVC, and Not Boring Capital, alongside participation from existing investors. The funds will be used to advance the development of UNP’s technology platform and expand the company’s focus beyond oncology into new opportunities.

Prem Tumkosit, Managing Director of Merck Global Health Innovation Fund, has joined UNP’s board of directors.

Nature’s Solution to Hard Targets: Macrocycles
Macrocycles and cyclic peptides offer an opportunity to radically expand the druggable genome. Naturally derived macrocycles have been used as medicines across a variety of indications for decades. Their larger size and favorable drug-like properties allow macrocycles to hit intracellular targets too complex for small molecules and replicate the potency and selectivity of antibodies in an oral dosage form.

To address the panoply of targets that have been entirely off limits to previous approaches or have only yielded to injectable antibody and biologic strategies, UNP leverages a parallel chemistry and AI-driven platform that imbues targeted and designed synthetic macrocycles with the favorable drug-likeness of evolved macrocycles found in nature.

“We’re very fortunate to have the support from MGHIF and ARTIS and great new investors added to the roster in this round. This underlines our team’s hard work building a platform to accelerate this burgeoning molecular class,” said Cameron Pye, CEO and Co-Founder. “Macrocycles are today where antibody therapeutics were a couple of decades ago. We finally have the technologies to rapidly and reproducibly find and optimize macrocycles against any given target. I believe macrocycles will be as impactful to the pharmaceutical industry as the biologics revolution of the early 2000s.”

“We look to partner with ‘next horizon’ technologies with the potential to impact patient care,” said Prem Tumkosit, Managing Director of MGHIF. “We invest in the future of drug development by attempting to solve key technical challenges, opening up a world of possibilities that will only lead to better, more targeted solutions for patients suffering from a myriad of conditions.”

“Macrocycles can be the best of both worlds - combining the binding and delivery of peptides with the oral delivery of small molecules,” said Vasudev Bailey, PhD, Managing Partner at ARTIS Ventures. “We have always maintained that UNP’s unique approach combining machine learning with chemistry holds the key to hugely impact drug development for many conditions. We are confident their efforts hold the potential to make a difference in the lives of many.”

About Unnatural Products, Inc.
Unnatural Products, Inc. (UNP) is a California-based biotech company whose platform addresses the complexities of medicinal chemistry in the macrocycle space through a combination of parallel experimentation and machine learning. Founded by macrocycle pioneers whose academic work uncovered how Nature’s macrocycles work, UNP is a team of passionate scientists and engineers. UNP is privately held and funded by ARTIS Ventures, Abstract Ventures, Asset Management Ventures, Better Ventures, Blue Bear Ventures, Merck's MSD GHI fund, Rising Tide Fund, First Spark Ventures, The Venture Collective, Humain Ventures, LongeVC, Gaingels, and Not Boring Capital. For updates and partnering opportunities, contact contact@unnaturalproducts.com.
About Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (MGHIF)
Merck Global Health Innovation Fund (MGHIF) is a growth investor partnering with innovative digital health and data science companies that facilitate and optimize biopharmaceutical operations with the goal of improving patient care. With access to Merck’s (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada) expertise in clinical development, commercialization, supply chain management, and regulatory compliance, MGHIF is building an ecosystem of companies creating integrated healthcare solutions. MGHIF has distinguished itself as a leader in digital health by using its $500 million evergreen fund to invest more than $1 billion in more than 70 emerging companies, generating more than $7 billion in exits. For more information, visit www.merckghifund.com or www.merck.com.

About ARTIS Ventures
ARTIS Ventures (AV) partners with entrepreneurs driven to impact the world by reshaping and reinventing industries. The team supports its portfolio companies through their entire life cycle, from initial venture investment to public offering and beyond. As an early leader in the emerging TechBio sector, ARTIS Ventures funds companies at the intersection of computer science and life science, applying engineering principles and data-enabled discovery to healthcare. Notable companies the firm has backed include Stemcentrx (acquired by Abbvie), Outpace Bio, Tessera Therapeutics, Freenome, Eko, Delix Therapeutics, Modern Meadow, Excision BioTherapeutics, Lemonaid Health (acquired by 23andMe), and more. For more information, visit www.av.co or email contact@av.co.