Stem Cell Reprogramming Company Bit Bio Rakes in $41.5 Million in Series A
U.K.-based Bit Bio, a spinout of Cambridge University and previously known as Elpis Biotechnology, secured $41.5 million in a Series A funding round that will be used to support the company’s goal to transition biology into engineering.
Founded by stem cell biologist and neurosurgeon Mark Kotter, Bit Bio aims to commercialize Opti-OX, a proprietary technology platform for the efficient and consistent reprogramming of human cells for use in research, drug discovery, and cell therapy. Bit Bio’s aim is to decode “cellular identity” in order to generate every cell type of the human body. Through the Opti-Ox platform, stem cells are reprogrammed in order to take on a new identity. The cells then become specialized cells, such as those in the liver, brain or immune system. With its platform, Bit Bio said it is already able to produce human cells at unmatched scale, speed and consistency.
Recent successes in cell therapy sparked new hopes for the treatment of cancer. However, there is limited availability of human cells, which makes research with them expensive and can restrict their applications in drug tests. The supply of human cells resulting from Bit Bio’s approach aims to tackle this problem. At the same time, the company’s technology will reduce the need for animal studies, the company said.
Kotter, who serves as chief executive officer of Bit Bio, said the company’s moonshot goal is to develop a platform capable of producing every human cell type.
“This will unlock a new generation of cell and tissue therapies for tackling cancer, neurodegenerative disorders and autoimmune diseases and accelerate the development of effective drugs for a range of conditions. The support of leading deep tech and biotech investors will catalyze this unique convergence of biology and engineering,” Kotter said in a statement.
The Series A funding brings the company’s total funding to about $50 million. The Series A round was led by noted life sciences investors, including Richard Klausner, the former director of the National Cancer Institute and founder of Lyell Immunopharma, Juno and Grail. Additional investors in the Series A include Foresite Capital, Blueyard Capital and Arch Venture Partners.
Klausner said the funding will support Bit Bio’s development program and help the company grow the talent and operations it needs to succeed.
“Bit Bio is based on beautiful science. The company’s technology has the potential to bring the long-awaited precision and reliability of engineering to the application of stem cells. Bit Bio’s approach represents a paradigm shift in biology that will enable a new generation of cell therapies, improving the lives of millions,” Klausner said in a statement.