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Profluent Secures $35M in Additional Funding and Key Industry Experts to Scale Foundational AI Models for Biomedicine and Tackle First Vertical in Gene Editing

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• Funding propels company’s proprietary platform consisting of Generative AI models and large-scale datasets purpose-built for designing and validating novel proteins, opening new frontiers in therapeutics and industrial applications
• First focus on CRISPR systems to accelerate development of essential genetic medicines, aided by the appointments of Hilary Eaton, PhD as Chief Business Officer and Peter Cameron, PhD as VP and Head of Gene Editing
• Former Head of Product at OpenAI Fraser Kelton joins Board of Directors, bringing strategic insight to fuel the company's next growth phase

BERKELEY, Calif., March 21, 2024-- Profluent, an AI-first protein design company, today announced the close of additional funding to bring the total raised to $44M. The $35M financing was led by Spark Capital, with participation from existing investors Insight Partners and Air Street Capital along with a syndicate of angel investors from OpenAI, Salesforce, Octant Bio, and Google including Jeff Dean, Chief Scientist of Google DeepMind. The company previously raised $9M from Insight Partners, Air Street Capital, AIX Ventures, and Convergent Ventures.

“Our research at the forefront of AI has enabled Profluent to create large language models that begin to learn the blueprint of nature,” said Ali Madani, Profluent co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. “We are moving biology from being constrained by what can be discovered in nature to being able to design precisely according to our needs via AI. The science is real and the time is now to proactively create breakthrough medicines that can transform society.”

Profluent was founded on the principle of AI as an interpreter to decode the language of life and transcend the limits of traditional protein engineering. Previous approaches required inefficient searches within nature or brute-force mutagenesis, greatly hampering the resulting probability of success. In contrast, Profluent’s models can rapidly access an immense combinatorial space to optimize across multiple functional attributes, enabling a paradigm shift from accidental discovery to intentional design. By first applying its platform to gene editing, the company showcases AI as the ideal interface for engineering complex biological systems. The versatility of the platform allows for AI to precisely tune existing CRISPR scaffolds or create novel editing systems from scratch, with the ultimate goal of crafting the right tool for each patient.

"As they advance the frontier of AI research in the life sciences, Ali and Profluent are making biology programmable for the first time,” said Fraser Kelton, General Partner at Spark Capital and former Head of Product at OpenAI. “I joined OpenAI in 2020 when I realized the events of this past year were inevitable. We’re at the precipice of a similar change in biology. Just as ChatGPT can write compelling essays and emails, Profluent has developed AI that designs entirely new and functional proteins. Having seen firsthand what happens when the frontier of AI is advanced in a field, it was impossible to not be involved with Profluent and support their mission."

Kelton joined OpenAI in 2020 when it was a research lab and helped lead its commercialization efforts. He wrote the first product roadmaps for the organization and helped build and lead teams that launched OpenAI’s ChatGPT and DALL-E. Kelton has been an investor at Spark Capital since 2023.

"Historically, true disruption has occurred when two cutting-edge technologies intersect. Profluent is bridging AI and CRISPR, leading to previously unseen innovation in the field. We view the transformation of natural enzymes like Cas9 into therapeutics as a significant leap forward, and we intend to build on this progress by custom-designing enzymes for entirely new editing modalities," said Hilary Eaton, Chief Business Officer at Profluent. "The foundation of our business model is partnerships – we’re actively evaluating potential collaborations with companies that are correspondingly best-in-class or innovative within each therapeutic vertical, CRISPR and beyond.”

As part of the financing, Kelton and Nabeel Hyatt, also a general partner at Spark Capital, will join the company’s Board of Directors. The capital will support Profluent's next stage of growth, focusing on the advancement of its proprietary LLMs and datasets, wet lab capabilities, and upleveling of CRISPR gene editing. This investment will enable the creation and validation of innovative, functional proteins and move the company closer to significantly improving healthcare and disease treatment.

Profluent was co-founded in 2022 by Madani, who previously led machine learning research initiatives at Salesforce Research, and Alexander Meeske, assistant professor of microbiology at the University of Washington’s School of Medicine. Joining CEO Madani on Profluent’s seasoned executive team are Chief Business Officer Hilary Eaton, who brings a decade of gene editing-focused business development experience at Tome, Vor and Editas; and VP and Head of Gene Editing Peter Cameron, who previously directed technology development at Spotlight and Caribou.

The company’s technology has been validated by a peer-reviewed paper in Nature Biotechnology that detailed the first demonstration of LLMs generating entire de novo proteins that function as well as natural proteins evolved over millions of years.

About Profluent

Profluent is an AI-first protein design company headquartered in Berkeley, CA. Founded in 2022, Profluent develops deep generative models to design and validate novel, functional proteins to revolutionize biomedicine. The company is backed by leading investors including Spark Capital, Insight Partners, Air Street Capital, AIX Ventures, and Convergent Ventures. To learn more about Profluent’s mission to decode the language of life with AI, visit profluent.bio.

Contact:
Thermal for Profluent
press@profluent.bio

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