Khosla Ventures helps seed a next-gen regenerative medicines startup boasting AI-based stem cell culturing technology
A startup in the bustling Boston-area biotech hub hopes its new technology has solved a time-consuming aspect of developing drugs that rely on cell therapy: having to remove stem cells by hand, individually, during the manufacturing process.
Cellino, a regenerative medicine company, announced Monday that it concluded a $16 million seed financing round that will further advance technology that uses artificial intelligence and a personalized tissue and cell platform and ultimately seeks to generate autologous induced pluripotent stem cells at scale.
CEO Nabiha Saklayen founded Cellino in 2017 while still in her mid-20s (she’s since gone on to be named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and MIT Tech Review’s 35 Innovators Under 35 list), and told Endpoints News in a statement that the technology has the potential to eliminate “a major bottleneck” in the stem cell industry.
“The company was founded to fill a critical gap in the stem cell industry by engineering personalized stem cells with laser-precision in an automated, software-driven, and closed manner. Current autologous processes for generating induced pluripotent stem cells are not scalable due to extensive manual handling, high variability, and low yield,” she said. “By progressing towards the ultimate goal of scalable stem cell manufacturing, only then will we fulfill the promise of personalized cell therapies, by enabling access to all patients.”
The technology itself functions by automating stem cell production using image-guided machine learning, single-cell laser processing, and robotics. Cellino said in a press release that the standardization of manufacturing in a closed format allows it to easily scale stem cell production from the preclinical process all the way to commercial manufacturing.
The applications, they say, can span everything from neurodegenerative diseases, retinal disorders to skin conditions — all of which they are exploring for the in-house pipeline.
Investment in the $16 million funding round was spearheaded by The Engine and Khosla Ventures, with participation from Humboldt Fund and 8VC. In a statement, Alex Morgan, a partner at Khosla Ventures, was downright bullish on Cellino’s future and how its technology could alter the stem cell therapeutics industry.
“Companies that disrupt entire industries and processes don’t normally originate from a single discipline,” he said. “By using single-cell laser processing and AI-guided automation to engineer cells at scale, Cellino is well-positioned to lead the next-generation of personalized regenerative medicines.”