On Wednesday, biotech startup GentiBio launched with $20 million in seed funding.
Headquartered in Boston, the company draws on technologies licensed from a handful of Seattle-based research institutions to engineer regulatory T cells, which can be used to treat autoimmune, alloimmune and autoinflammatory diseases, as well as allergic reactions.
Also known as Tregs, these cells are an important part of the immune system. They regulate or suppress other types of immune system cells, ensuring the body can protect itself from threats. To oversimplify a bit, allergic reactions and autoimmune diseases are inappropriate reactions to threats — which is why GentiBio hopes aims to engineer their own regulatory T cells to treat these diseases.
The company’s first funding round was led by OrbiMed, Novartis Venture Fund and RA Capital Management.
“GentiBio is focused on addressing the technical bottlenecks that have throttled Treg therapeutics,” GentiBio CEO and cofounder Dr. Adel Nada said in a statement.
To date, the company has licensed technologies from Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason and MIGAL Galilee Research Institute.
“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.”
Autoimmune diseases and similar ailments affect as many as 23.5 million people in the United States, according to a National Institutes of Health report. GentiBio aims to scale its platform in order to treat as many of these patients as possible.
For more information on the science behind how the company’s technology works, check out GentiBio’s recently published paper in the June of 2020 edition of Science Translational Medicine.