Asia | December 4, 2018

Japan’s Dai-ichi Life backs biotech venture Molcure

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, December 3 – Tokyo-based Molcure is developing a machine learning-powered platform to support faster drug development and the discovery of new treatments for cancers and other diseases for which there are currently no effective treatments. Life insurance company Dai-ichi is investing ¥100 million ($880,000) in the five-year-old venture.

Molcure’s platform relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze genetic materials and quickly and more cost effectively identify potential antibodies for new drug treatments. Antibody drugs target specific cells in the body, minimizing treatment side-effects. The standard process for developing these treatments is time consuming: it can take six months to identify 20,000 antibody candidates, compared to Molcure’s method of analyzing 10 million candidates in one third of the time, according to a Dai-ichi statement.

Molcure is Dai-ichi’s seventh investment since launching its impact investing initiative last October. The ¥36.3 trillion ($319.9 billion) life insurance firm has primarily backed startups working on global health initiatives, like Molcure, and access to financial services, like microfinance company Gojo & Company.

Impact investing in Japan has seen rapid growth in recent years, doubling from $337 million to $718 million since 2016.