BOSTON, Mass., SEATTLE, Wash., and QIRYAT SHMONA, Israel, August 5, 2020 - GentiBio, Inc., an emerging biotherapeutics company developing engineered regulatory T cells (EngTregs) programmed to treat autoimmune, alloimmune, autoinflammatory, and allergic diseases, announced today it has closed a $20 million seed funding led by OrbiMed, Novartis Venture Fund and RA Capital Management, L.P. GentiBio also announced it has entered into exclusive licensing partnerships with Seattle Children's Research Institute, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), and MIGAL Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL) to advance the company's unique immune tolerance platform. GentiBio was co-founded by a team of scientific pioneers from Seattle Children's, BRI and MIGAL to restore immune tolerance using Treg cell therapy engineered with novel technologies that direct potent EngTregs to specific tissues damaged by abnormal immune responses.
Under the terms of the licensing agreements, Seattle Children's, BRI and MIGAL will exclusively license unique technologies to GentiBio that overcome many of the current limitations of Tregs therapeutics, including rarity and plasticity of endogenous Tregs populations. Additionally, GentiBio's platform will enable the scaled production of robust EngTregs cell therapy products that are antigen specific and tunable. The platform may also have the potential to accelerate the development of new therapeutics to treat and cure a variety of diseases, including autoimmune diseases that impact tens of millions of patients globally and 23 million people in the U.S.
"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," said Adel Nada, M.D., Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of GentiBio. "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."
"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," said David Rawlings, M.D., Director, Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies, Seattle Children's Research Institute and Scientific Co-Founder and Senior Scientific Advisor of GentiBio. Rawlings also serves as Chief of the Division of Immunology at Seattle Children's and is a professor of pediatrics and immunology at the University of Washington School of Medicine.
"This partnership with GentiBio is an important step forward in identifying and improving novel treatments for autoimmune diseases--a key goal of the Benaroya Research Institute. Currently, the majority of available treatments indiscriminately suppress the immune system, leaving the body vulnerable to infections. EngTregs endowed with antigen specific moieties can selectively restrict inflammation temporally and spatially in specific tissues where it's beneficial," said Jane Buckner, M.D., President of BRI and Scientific Co-Founder and Scientific Advisory Board member of GentiBio.
Rawlings and Buckner led the team of researchers at Seattle Children's and BRI that published a study in Science Translational Medicine in June 2020 describing this novel gene-editing strategy for FOXP3 expression in CD4+ T cells.
"At MIGAL, we believe international collaboration is necessary to drive novel therapies. Our team brings in a unique and deep expertise in synthetic immunology, starting from the first invention of T-cell chimeric antigen receptors (CAR Ts) in 1989. We are excited to team with GentiBio to develop unique breakthrough treatments that are wide-ranging in their impact, extending the reach of GentiBio to unique and novel disease targets," said Prof. Gidi Gross, Head, Immunology Lab, MIGAL and Scientific Co-Founder and Scientific Advisory Board member of GentiBio.
GentiBio, Inc., is an early stage biotherapeutics company co-founded by pioneers in Treg biology and synthetic immunology to develop engineered regulatory T cells (EngTregs) programmed to treat autoimmune, alloimmune, autoinflammatory and allergic diseases. GentiBio's proprietary autologous and allogeneic EngTregs platform integrates key complimentary technologies needed to successfully restore immune tolerance and overcome major limitations in existing regulatory T-cell therapeutics. GentiBio is at the forefront of leveraging a unique therapeutic modality that can be used to address the fundamental cause of many diseases that result from overshooting and/or malfunctioning of the immune system.
About Seattle Children's
Seattle Children's mission is to provide hope, care and cures to help every child live the healthiest and most fulfilling life possible. Together, Seattle Children's Hospital, Research Institute and Foundation deliver superior patient care, identify new discoveries and treatments through pediatric research, and raise funds to create better futures for patients.
Ranked as one of the top children's hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Seattle Children's serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical center for Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho - the largest region of any children's hospital in the country. As one of the nation's top five pediatric research centers, Seattle Children's Research Institute is internationally recognized for its work in neurosciences, immunology, cancer, infectious disease, injury prevention and much more. Seattle Children's Hospital and Research Foundation works with the Seattle Children's Guild Association, the largest all-volunteer fundraising network for any hospital in the country, to gather community support and raise funds for uncompensated care and research. Join Seattle Children's bold initiative - It Starts With Yes: The Campaign for Seattle Children's - to transform children's health for generations to come.
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About Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason
Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI) works to advance the science that will predict, prevent, reverse and cure diseases of the immune system. BRI is committed to eliminating autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis, as well as immune system diseases such as allergies, asthma and COVID-19. An internationally recognized medical research institute, BRI accelerates discovery through laboratory breakthroughs in immunology that are translated to clinical therapies. Visit benaroyaresearch.org or follow BRI's Autoimmune Life blog, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or Twitter to learn more.
About MIGAL Galilee Research Institute
MIGAL Galilee Research Institute Ltd is a regional R&D center of the Israeli Science and Technology Ministry owned by the Galilee Development Company ltd. An internationally-recognized multi-disciplinary applied research institute, MIGAL specializes in biotechnology and computer sciences, plant science, precision agriculture and environmental sciences, and food, nutrition and health. Recognized as a powerhouse of applied research, for forty years MIGAL has cooperated closely with industry leaders, innovative startups, and technological accelerators. MIGALs' employees include 90 PhDs and 190 researchers distributed across 44 research groups, operating as an innovative research ecosystem that encourages collaboration across scientific, industrial, agricultural, academic and technological specialties.