(TechCrunch) Menten AI combines quantum computing and machine learning to discover new drugs that sit between small molecules and large biologics, according to the company’s co-founder Hans Melo. Menten AI has received a $4 million seed investment from firms including Uncork Capital and Khosla Ventures to build out its business to create new proteins not found in nature for use in the pharmaceutical and chemistry industries. Menten’s quantum approach aims to overcome the scalability challenges that limit classical methods in computational protein design.
A graduate of the Y Combinator accelerator, which also participated in the round, Menten AI looks to design proteins from scratch. Menten AI is working with peptides, which are strings of amino acid chains similar to proteins that have the potential to slow aging, reduce inflammation, and get rid of pathogens in the body.
“As a drug modality [peptides] are quite new,” says Melo. “Until recently it was really hard to design them computationally and people tried to focus on genetically modifying them.”
Peptides have the benefit of getting through membranes and into cells where they can combine with targets that are too large for small molecules, according to Melo.