Cloud Pharmaceuticals, a Triangle startup which is using the collective power of the cloud to research and develop new drugs, is turning to crowdfunding in an attempt to generate capital for research into ALS and the Zika virus.

The move toward crowdfunding as a means to raise cash for drug development is relatively new in the pharmaceutical industry, but a 2014 study published in Drug Discovery Today described the approach as “viable.”

The RTP-based startup says it hopes to raise $2.5 million through the campaign, which launched Wednesday.

It is targeting accredited investors with a minimum investment of $50,000.

In exchange for the cash, the investors will receive convertible debt, according to a company spokesperson.

Cloud Phama is raising this cash in addition to a “separate funding effort for our mezzanine round going on now,” the spokesperson adds. The fundraising goal is between $5 million and $10 million, according to Cloud Pharma execs. And looking ahead, she adds, “the company plans to go public in 2017.”

Investors can participate in either the crowdfunding round or the mezzanine round, not both, she adds. But Cloud Pharma “will manage two programs internally.”

Cloud Pharma’s underlying computational design technology is Quantum Molecular Design, or the “QMD process.” Employing artificial intelligence and molecular modeling, it’s based on research done at Duke University and is designed to accelerate drug development while also cutting costs.

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Cloud Pharma chose to target ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, and Zika for development since the effects of each “impact a relatively small percentage of the population” and therefore “there is less incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest R&D.”

The company said it plans to design potential drugs then “developing those compounds either with partners or in-house.”

​In disclosing the crowdfunding drive, Cloud Pharma CEO Ed Addison spelled out what he sees as the need and opportunity in the effort.

“ALS and Zika virus have devastating effects on those afflicted. But research is limited because of each disease’s orphan status,” he said. “The diseases affect a relatively small percentage of the population, so there is less incentive for pharmaceutical companies to invest in efforts to treat or prevent the diseases. Crowdfunding enables us to fund that work and continue our efforts to improve health and well-being through the computational design and rapid development of new therapies.”

Triangle-based Biocryst is also seeking to create a Zika treatment.

More info about the crowdfunding drive is available at:

What is Quantum Molecular Design?

Cloud Pharmaceuticals is committed to improving health and well-being through the computational design and rapid development of new therapies. Its proprietary Quantum Molecular Design process combines AI and cloud computing to search virtual molecular space and applies along sophisticated molecular modeling to design novel drugs. The process enables faster drug development progress at lower cost and a higher success rate and better targeting of hard-to-drug indications. The company partners at all stages of drug development – from discovery through the clinic – and is building an extensive product pipeline that spans a wide range of indications.

Source: Cloud Pharmaceuticals