UCL startup acquired by biotechnology company in bid to find cancer drugs in ‘record time’

20 Jan 2022 | Network Updates | Update from University College London
These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network


Photo: UCL website.

Machine learning company, Rahko, has been bought by US-based biotechnology firm, Odyssey Therapeutics, in a move that will bring together artificial intelligence and drug-discovery software to improve medical development for patients with cancer and inflammatory diseases.

Rahko was founded in 2018, by UCL Computer Science PhD students Leo Wossnig and Ed Grant, alongside entrepreneurs Miriam Cha and Ian Horobin.

The Quantum Machine Learning (QML) startup has developed software to run on the first generation of practical quantum computers.

And it’s quantum drug discovery platform, Hyrax, will enable us to efficiently understand how drugs behave – by using physics and artificial intelligence to quickly create simulations, reduce errors and decrease the amount of data required.

Rahko’s technology will help Odyssey Therapeutics to establish the next generation of oncology drugs and immunomodulators – drugs that can support the immune system in its response to the medicine - and will enable them to help find drugs for patients with inflammatory diseases and cancer more quickly and efficiently than ever before.

Co-founder, Ed Grant, says: “Launching a venture with the support of UCL has been a fantastic experience. We have been able to apply our research to complex, valuable problems, build a phenomenal multidisciplinary team, grow and learn as entrepreneurs, and now join Odyssey Therapeutics with the mission of profoundly impacting patients’ lives.”

Founder and CEO of Odyssey Therapeutics, Gary Glick, said: “This acquisition of UCL’s startup Rahko gives Odyssey the opportunity to pair artificial intelligence and physics-based methods with a team of master drug-hunters, a combination that is critical to elevating precision medicine and redefining what’s possible in drug development.

“Rahko’s powerful platform will play a direct role in identifying the best leads for our targets with unprecedented speed and accuracy, assisting with our efforts to address the undruggable genome with the goal of delivering transformational impact for patients with inflammatory diseases and cancer in record time.”

Rahko was officially registered as a company at BaseKX, UCL’s dedicated entrepreneurship hub, which is run by UCL Innovation & Enterprise and provides the university’s most promising startups with free, tailored support and dedicated office space.

The startup was also in the first cohort of Conception X, a venture builder to help PhD students commercialise their research, launched by UCL Engineering.

Professor David Price, UCL Vice-Provost (Research, Innovation & Global Engagement) said: “The acquisition of Rahko by Odyssey Therapeutics has the potential to transform patients’ lives.

“I commend the hard work of the founders and look forward to seeing what they achieve in the future.”

This article was first published on 17 January by University College London.

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