This is 6th issue of Ten Companies to Watch. Here I pick and overview the most interesting companies in stem cell/ cell therapy/ regenerative medicine field. I’m focusing on new startups, but considering any other “under-appreciated” companies. As always – I’m open to your suggestions. Tell me why any particular company is different and worth our attention.
Here is my new list without particular order:
1. Amino Labs
Genetic engineering is going to masses! Amino makes the DIY counter-top sized biorngineering kit. This project was developed by MIT Media Lab grad student Julie Legault. Read more about Amino on MIT Tech Review, IndieGoGo and Wired. Make a gift to your kids – buy Amino for the New Year!
Private US-based company RetroSence is commercializing optogenetics for treatment of eye diseases. This is the first optogenetic therapeutic company, which received this year green light from FDA to conduct clinical trial. Company’s product candidate is photosensitive gene, channelrhodopsin-2. Read more about RetroSense here.
3. Cell Therapy Ltd
British clinical stage private company, founded by Nobel Laureate Martin Evans. The company develops cell therapies for multiple indications, based on allogeneic immunomodulatory mesenchymal progenitor cells. Cell Therapy is well known for the most successful crowdfunding campaign in the history of cell therapy – it reached ~ $1M USD earlier this year! Recently, company submitted to EMA for conditional marketing authorization of Heartcel.
Do you remember a big buzz about 62 genes CRISPR editing in pigs for organ transplant? Well, now there is a company to commercialize it – eGenesis. Yes, it is founded by George Church. Should I say more? Must watch!
5. Nohla Therapeutics
Very new US-based startup, commercializing universal ex vivo expanded cord blood-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells as an alternative to conventional hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in hematology-oncology. The technology, Notch ligand-based expansion of CD34+ cells, was developed by Irwin Berstein and Colleen Delaney at Fred Hutch Cancer Center. Scientific advisory board is stellar! Yesterday, Venture investment brought the first $20M to the company.
Yet another gene therapy company, but… it was founded by famous James Wilson. A pioneer of gene therapy is now back with more than ever strong mission to help patients. Unlike other gene therapy companies, RegenXBio is widely exercising licensing options. The company has 8 licensing partners, including recent Baxter spinout – Baxalta. In September this year RegenXBio went public and got $159M via successful IPO.
7. Neon Therapeutics
New immuno-oncology startup from Cambridge, MA. Three key things make Neon different – (1) targeting tumor neoantigents, (2) highly personalized approach (1 patient = 1 unique product) and (3) multiple programs – vaccine-based as well as T-cell based. Eric Lander – a director of MIT Broad Institute is a founding director of Neon. The whole board is stellar! Read more here.
8. Rubius Therapeutics
One more “Cambridge child”, Rubius is utilizing unique approach, based on drug-carrying capacity of red blood cells. The technology based on study from MIT’s Harvey Lodish lab, which demonstrated that engineered red blood cells can deliver conjugated drug systemically for up to 28 days in mice. Read more here.
9. Tychon Biosciences
Tychon is very new pre-clinical immunocellular therapy startup, spinout of U of Minnesota. The company utilizes prosthetic antigen receptors (PAR-T) technology. Unlike many other CAR-T cell companies, the technology does not involve gene modification, but allows bispecific antibodies to bind t-cell surface via self-assembled nanorings.
10. Neurona Therapeutics
Neurona is US-based pre-clinical stage cell therapeutic startup. The company has a very strong scientific foundation, based on neural stem cell research of Arnold Kriegstein and Arturo Álvarez-Buylla from UCSF. The company is focusing on treatment of few neurological conditions by very specific type of cells – GABA+ neurons, derived from embryonic stem cells. Read more here.
Disclaimer: This list reflects solely my opinion and sympathy. I have no financial interest in companies, mentioned in this post. This post should not be considered as financial advice.