By Janice Bitters Turi,
San Francisco-based gene therapy biotech company 64x Bio has raised $55 million to advance its gene therapy manufacturing platform, which company officials and investors say could “revolutionize the economics and accessibility of gene therapy.”
The raise comes as many investors say gene therapy is poised to make waves in the biotech industry. The technology has made enormous strides in recent years to become a new option to help treat or cure chronic or severe illnesses, injuries and possibly even change the way we age.
But in many ways, its impact is still theoretical because the industry is facing a major roadblock to scaling: Manufacturing simply hasn’t kept up when it comes to viral vectors, the critical tools molecular biologists use to put genetic material into cells.
That’s where 64x Bio comes in, according to company CEO and founder Alexis Rovner.
“This is a really hard problem, because … human cells have evolved to avoid vector production or virus production,” Rovner told Crunchbase News in a recent interview. “So, any mutation to these cells that forces them to make more of this material is going to be rare and it’s very likely that we would need to test more possibilities than there are stars in the universe. … We’re inventing a new technology to solve that problem.”
The money will help 64x Bio expand its VectorSelect platform, which the company says can help pick the best cell lines for their specific uses and build them out to be manufactured at scale.
The Series A round was led by Lifeforce Capital, with significant participation from Northpond Ventures, Future Ventures, First Round Capital and Michael Chambers, co-founder and former CEO of Aldevron. Also participating in the oversubscribed round were Chris Gibson, co-founder and CEO of Recursion, Alix Ventures and existing investors Fifty Years, SV Angel, BoxGroup and Refactor Capital.
What sets 64x Bio apart, company founders say, is that it is building the optimized cell lines and licensing them to its customers, and is collecting and analyzing information along the way to make its VectorSelect platform smarter and more efficient with each new datapoint.
From an investor’s point of view, 64x Bio is not only interesting on its own, but also has the potential to help grow and increase the value of the entire gene therapy industry, Adam Wieschhaus, director at Northpond Ventures, told Crunchbase News.
Source : https://news.crunchbase.com/news/64x-bio-55m-gene-therapy-manufacturing/