RA, Novartis back GentiBio's seed round, plans to launch development of EngTreg therapies
Boston, MA-based startup GentiBio landed a $20 million seed fund from three investors to dive into engineered regulatory T cell (EngTreg) development.
Marquee investors OrbiMed, Novartis Venture Fund and RA Capital Management have backed GentiBio’s mission to develop EngTregs for the treatment of autoimmune, alloimmune, autoinflammatory, and allergic diseases. Unlike other companies studying treatments using a patient’s own Tregs, GentiBio plans to make use of CD4+ immune cells, found in the blood.
GentiBio’s co-founders hail from the Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), and MIGAL Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL). All three companies are now partners, and Seattle Children’s has agreed to license its technology exclusively to GentiBio.
Many companies have eyed Treg cell therapies in the last decade, but the rarity and plasticity of endogenous Treg cells pose a significant challenge.
“Tregs are rare cells within the immune system and current therapies that source Tregs cells from the blood stream can be costly and cumbersome. In contrast, Seattle Children’s unique technology enables the generation of engineered regulatory T cells, or EngTregs, from the more abundant CD4+ cell population, addressing a critical manufacturing shortcoming for this novel treatment,” David Rawlings, GentiBio co-founder and senior scientific advisor and director of the Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, said in a statement.
GentiBio co-founder and CEO Adel Nada added in a statement: “GentiBio is focused on addressing the technical bottlenecks that have throttled Treg therapeutics, and we are thrilled to exclusively in-license a portfolio of unprecedented breadth from Seattle Children’s and Benaroya Research Institute in the U.S. and MIGAL Galilee Research Institute in Israel,””The technologies licensed from these premier research institutions are mature and well-differentiated, and will be further optimized in sponsored research collaborations with the scientific teams that discovered them to advance novel and potent therapeutics with the potential to treat and cure serious autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.”