Biotech AI startup Unlearn adds $15 million and OpenAI CTO to board
By Krystal Hu
(Reuters) - Unlearn.AI, which has built a machine learning platform that creates "digital twin" profiles of patients in clinical trials, has raised $15 million to expand partnerships and accelerate regulatory approval, the company told Reuters on Tuesday. The investment from Radical Ventures and Wittington Ventures valued the startup at $265 million, the company said.
Mira Murati, chief technology officer at Microsoft-backed OpenAI, is joining the startup's board. "The team at Unlearn is working on applications of AI that have incredible potential to revolutionise healthcare, diagnostics and treatment," Murati told Reuters.
While generative AI is known for creating content like text, images, and even computer code, Unlearn uses it to build digital twins to speed up clinical drug trials through its neural networks.
If successful, Unlearn's software could lower costs for drug developers by cutting the number of enrollments needed for clinical trials by replacing patients who receive a placebo.
The funding Unlearn raised came after it won approval from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in September for using its AI-driven approach for conducting smaller and quicker clinical trials and struck several multi-million dollar deals with pharmaceutical companies, including Merck. San Francisco-based Unlearn focuses on a relatively novel application of generative AI. The technology, where AI learns how to take actions from past data, has become widely known through applications including OpenAI's viral chatbot ChatGPT. By collecting patient data from research studies, Unlearn's platform computes a twin for each patient in a clinical trial and populates the control arm of the research with these twins.
With a focus on Phase III clinical trials, Charles Fisher, chief executive at Unlearn said gaining approvals from regulators including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is critical to commercializing the technology to global drugmakers. "For us the big priority on the regulatory front is to partner with drugmakers to run trials and set a precedent," said Fisher.
Unlearn has raised a total $85 million from investors including Insight Partners, 8VC, and Mubadala Ventures.
(Reporting by Krystal Hu in New York; Editing by Sonali Paul)