Patients should not need to wait four months for these life-saving therapies
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–May 17, 2018–
Indee Labs received US$2.6M in venture financing extending its seed-stage funding to more than US$5.4M (AU$7.1M). This will accelerate the development of Indee Labs’ gene therapy manufacturing technology into a product that biotechnology companies can use for discovery-stage research.
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Image of a bonded wafer containing an array of µVS devices at the University of South Australia’s Future Industries Institute. Credit: South Australia Node of the Australian National Fabrication Facility.
The round was led by Founders Fund (San Francisco) and included Main Sequence Ventures (Australia) along with several angels. Previously, the company closed a US$1.3M angel round from Y Combinator, Jude Gomila, Shaun Maguire and Jaffray Woodriff (Felton Group, LLC). Indee Labs total funds raised to date include US$3.9M in equity and US$1.5M in non-dilutive funding.
FF Science and Main Sequence are both deep technology funds that bring forward world-changing, science-based technologies.
“All of the industry excitement around discovering gene targets for cell therapy has overlooked an inconvenient fact. We do not yet have scalable and efficient means of manufacturing these life-saving cells. The team at Indee Labs has developed a gene delivery technique that is not only inexpensive enough for general use, but fast enough to use the patient’s own cells. We expect Indee Labs will become the standard platform for bedside cell therapy,” stated Aaron VanDevender, Chief Scientist and Principal at Founders Fund.
“We are excited to partner with the team at Indee Labs to help drive down the cost of developing and manufacturing immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. Indee Labs’ new gene delivery technology provides a faster and more efficient method for developing and manufacturing personalised therapies at scale. We believe this may make these lifesaving treatments available to far more patients than at present,” explained Partner at Main Sequence Ventures, Mike Nicholls.
This follows the recent US$695K (AU$892K) non-dilutive grant from Australia’s BioMedTech Horizons (BMTH) program. It was awarded by MTPConnect and an independent selection panel assessed that Indee Labs’ technology addresses a “global megatrend” in healthcare. Link
Proceeds from the BMTH grant will go towards Indee Labs’ Australian operations and chip development at the Australian National Fabrication Facility (ANFF) at University of South Australia’s (UniSA) Future Industries Institute (FII).
“Australia has many unique and comprehensive micro- and nano-fabrication capabilities that allows us to operate as a fabless startup. We are excited to extend our partnership with the ANFF and FII as we move towards commercial-grade chip manufacturing,” said Warren McKenzie, CEO of Indee Labs Australia
“Partnerships such as this with Indee Labs are a great example of how our world-class facilities and staff at UniSA are having global impact, core to the FII’s mission to create the industries of the future,” said Director of UniSA’s FII, Professor Emily Hilder.
Proceeds from the round will go towards building Indee Labs’ team, a user-friendly instrument and head-to-head studies against incumbent technologies. These studies will allow the company to most accurately demonstrate performance improvements, such as lowering lead times for patients.
Ryan Pawell, CEO of Indee Labs, said, “Patients can die in the time that it takes to manufacture these immunotherapies — four months according to the JULIET clinical trial with a target of about 3 weeks for Liso-cel. We are aiming for a couple weeks then maybe a few days. This is a realistic goal because our core technology can be engineered into a closed system and does not perturb immune cells.”
“Thus far, it appears that Indee Labs’ technology can rapidly process clinically- and commercially-relevant samples with no observed immune cell perturbation, likely due to the gentle nature of fluid dynamics coupled with rapid processing times. This has been supported by transcriptome-wide sequencing data, which showed negligible differential gene expression in over 200,000 unique transcript reads, along with additional studies that revealed no variation in cytokine production or activation phenotype for processed cells relative to the handling controls,” explained Chief Scientific Officer, Amy Twite PhD.
The latest financing follows new results generated by the team demonstrating functional modification of human primary immune cells with different constructs.
About Indee Labs
Indee Labs is developing hardware for gene delivery using microfluidic vortex shedding (µVS).
The team has already demonstrated revolutionary improvements over existing gene delivery methods including higher yield, negligible immune cell perturbation along with rapid processing of research-, clinical- and commercial-scale samples with a simple workflow and a small footprint. It will also reduce the lead times for a treatment from months to weeks or even days. These promising early results have led to seed investment from investors in both Australia (Main Sequence Ventures) and the United States (Y Combinator, Social+Capital and Founders Fund).
Indee Labs would like to hear from biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies developing gene therapies interested in trialing gene delivery based on µVS.
About Main Sequence Ventures
Main Sequence Ventures backs deep tech founders inventing tomorrow. Established to manage the CSIRO Innovation Fund (CSIRO Innovation Fund I, LP), we are company builders and value creators with a mission to transform inspiring Australian research into epic global companies.
The CSIRO Innovation Fund was established as part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.
About Founders Fund’s FF Science
FF Science is an early stage investment vehicle of Founders Fund, a venture capital firm investing in science and technology companies solving difficult problems. The firm and its partners have been early backers of some of the most impactful companies of the past decade, including SpaceX, Palantir, Facebook and Airbnb. Founders Fund pursues a founder-friendly investment strategy, providing maximum support with minimum interference.
Photo: Link to image file here.