Belfast bio-tech firm using AI to help cure cancer, awarded £1.4m in grant funding

Two men posting side by side in the grounds of Queen's University.
Amply Discovery co-founders Dr Ben Thomas (right) and Dermot Tierney.

Belfast-based bio-tech firm Amply Discovery has been awarded £1.4 million in grant funding to help develop new products using its AI-driven drug discovery platform.

A spin-out from the Queen’s University, the company was established in 2021 to commercialise an innovative drug discovery platform developed by researchers in the School of Biological Science.

Described as ‘ChatGPT for molecule discovery’, Amply uses artificial intelligence (AI) and synthetic biology, which makes the discovery of new drugs more predictable and less expensive.

Its platform, which has been the subject of more than a decade of research and development, is being used to assist the discovery of cures for cancer, as well as metabolic and infectious diseases

The bio-tech firm is currently progressing two research and development (R&D) programmes.

The first, focusing on tackling highly genetically mediated cancers, has been awarded £835,000 by Innovate UK and Swiss innovation agency Innosuisse, to develop a new therapy for acute myeloid leukaemia.

The second programme, focused on inhaled antimicrobial therapies to fight multi-drug resistant (MDR) lung infections, has been awarded £602,000 by Innovate UK to develop a new nebulised antimicrobial product for MDR-TB.

Amply raised its initial pre-seed funding in May 2022 and is planning to raise a further £1.4m in a full seed funding round in the second quarter of 2024.

Chief executive and co-founder Dr Ben Thomas, said: “This new funding will further help Amply to realise its ambition of democratising the discovery of new therapeutics by building a transformative drug discovery studio, which leverages the raw power of evolution to unearth new medicines from nature’s huge untapped reservoir.”

Fellow company founder, Dermot Tierney, added: “As a drug discovery studio which discovers and develops de novo first-in-class drug candidates for downstream out-licensing this funding will significantly enhance our pipeline of license-ready assets.”

Amply’s existing investors include Co-fund NI, which is managed by Clarendon Fund Managers and supported by Invest NI.

It is also backed by the British Business Bank, QUBIS Limited, the Helix Way Partnership, Techstars, and angel investment from members of the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN).