Boulder’s Arpeggio Bioscience raises $17M Series A to bolster drug trials
BOULDER — Arpeggio Bioscience Inc., a preclinical-stage pharmaceutical company founded by University of Colorado Boulder doctoral program graduates, has raised a $17 million Series A fundraising round that will allow the company to scale its early drug trials.
San Francisco venture-capital investor Builders VC led the Series A, which followed a $3.2-million seed round in 2020.
Arpeggio has developed an artificial-intelligence-enabled platform for drug discovery that examines “what’s wrong with the entire cellular network that defines a disease” and applies potential treatments, Arpeggio co-founder and CEO Joey Azofeifa told BizWest.
The company, named by its musician founders after a type of chord, is putting its drug-development technology — which it farms out for use by other pharmaceutical companies as a secondary revenue stream — to work toward therapies for cancer and auto-immune diseases.
A large portion of the Series A funding will go toward puting the processes Arpeggio has used to help other companies discover drugs to use in bolstering its own treatment pipeline. Specifically, the company expects to invest in laboratory robotics and automation technology for cellular testing, results of which will be run through Arpeggio’s AI technology in an effort to scale up drug discovery.
The most mature potential oncology treatment in Arpeggio’s pipeline is being tested on mice, Azofeifa said.
“This drug we identified with our technology is killing and melting down really hard to treat cancers” in rodents, he said, and “ideally, the Series A proceeds will allow us to spend more money on more expensive studies” with the goal of eventual clinical trials — either funded by future capital raises or through a partnership with a larger pharmaceutical company — a few years down the line.
“Healthcare is primed to benefit from a disrupting system like Arpeggio’s, which has so much potential to help further our understanding of how drugs interact with each individual taking them,” Builders VC general partner Amit Mehta said in a prepared statement. “We believe Arpeggio has the vision to transform the way we approach drug and therapy development.”
Arpeggio — founded and led by Azofeifa, chief technology officer Tim Read and chief operating officer Laura Norris — has a team of a dozen that operates out of about 5,000 square feet of leased lab space in CU’s BioFrontiers Institute in Boulder.
Part of the Series A proceeds will go toward a modest boost of the company’s headcount, Azofeifa said.
Arpeggio’s core technology was patented by the company’s founders during their time as CU researchers. When the company was formed, the technology was licensed through CU’s technology-transfer process for use by Arpeggio.
The company’s proximity to CU and the broader Boulder biotech ecosystem allowed Arpeggio’s leadership team to tap into venture-capital networks, research-to-market programs, investor showcases and public grant opportunities, Azofeifa said.
“All of that was really helpful in the early days — it’s been great,” he said of support offered by the local life-sciences community.