2021-08-11| Funding

GentiBio Bags $157 Million in Series A to Fund Development of Treg Cell Therapies

by Rajaneesh K. Gopinath
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A year into its launch, Boston-based startup GentiBio, Inc., which specializes in developing engineered regulatory T cells (Tregs) therapies for immunological diseases, has announced a Series A funding of $157 million.

Led by Matrix Capital Management, the funding round also saw participation from Avidity Partners, JDRF T1D Fund, seed investors OrbiMed, RA Capital Management, and Novartis Venture Fund, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute.


Engineered Tregs

Tregs play a key role in preventing autoimmunity and tissue damage in the body. They control immune responses to self as well as foreign antigens and maintain immune homeostasis. However, they are not without limitations.

“Tregs play a vital role in controlling immune responses but are a rare and heterogenous population that is challenging to isolate and purify at scale,” said Adel Nada, M.D., M.S., President, and CEO of GentiBio.

GentiBio is focused on overcoming those limitations by producing engineered Tregs using its novel technology. It intends to precisely redirect stable, potent engineered Tregs to tissues damaged by abnormal immune responses. GentiBio licensed its technology from three premier research institutions— Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Benaroya Research Institute at Virginia Mason (BRI), and Israel-based MIGAL Galilee Research Institute (MIGAL).

“GentiBio engineered Tregs created from abundant autologous and allogeneic T cell sources have the potential to overcome scalability and phenotypic inconsistency issues that are intrinsic to Tregs sorted from peripheral blood,” Adel explained. “With the Series A financing, we are focused on advancing our programs with a uniquely scalable manufacturing process that produces stable and disease-specific engineered Tregs that are also tunable once infused in patients.”

The funds will aid GentiBio to advance its potential functional cure for Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) to the clinic alongside multiple other pipeline programs in chronic autoimmunity and autoinflammation. The company is currently selecting its T1D candidate and will begin IND-enabling studies before the end of the year.


Tregs – A Most Sought After Field

The global market for autoimmune disorder therapies is expected to grow to $90.7 billion by 2024. Recently, several companies have started betting on Tregs. In February, Merck spent $1.85 billion on Pandion Therapeutics to acquire several autoimmune disease therapies, including PT101, which selectively activates and expands Tregs.

Recently, Boston-based Abata Therapeutics secured $95 million in Series A funding led by Third Rock Ventures to accelerate the development of autologous Treg cell therapies for multiple sclerosis and programs in inclusion body myositis and T1D. Last week, Sonoma Biotherapeutics announced an oversubscribed $265 million Series B financing round led by Ally Bridge Group to fund the development of its Treg therapies for T1D and other autoimmune diseases.

It is, therefore, no surprise that funding agencies are queuing up to invest in the booming field of Treg cell therapy.

“We are excited by the (GentiBio’s) preclinical results demonstrating the broad therapeutic potential of its platform to engineer best-in-class Tregs,” said Andy Tran, the incoming Board Director from Matrix Capital Management. “GentiBio’s novel engineering platform has tremendous promise to bring forward durable Treg treatments for a broad array of devastating autoimmune diseases and has the unique ability to scale them cost-effectively for patients.”

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