Regenerating cells as a means of healing diseased tissues and organs has been an attractive but elusive endeavor in medicine. In addition to the manufacturing challenges of these therapies, scientists also have to contend with the risks of rejection and infection, as well as ensuring that the therapeutic benefit lasts. Biotech startup Satellite Bio aims to overcome these challenges with a new vision of tissue biology and is now out of the $ 110 million backed hiding.
Satellite Bio, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, selectively programs the cells (the startup claims its technology platform works with nearly all cell types) and then assembles them into implantable therapies it calls Satellite. According to the company, these bioengineered tissue structures can repair, restore, or even replace dysfunctional or diseased tissues or organs. Satellite Bio adds that these implantable cells are fully functional in the patient, overcoming the obstacles encountered by previous attempts to restore organ function. Preclinical data have shown how this approach can work.
A 2017 article published in Science Translational Medicine describes the implantation of bioengineered liver cells into a mouse model for chronic liver disease. The authors wrote that these “seeds” of artificial liver tissue grew and multiplied after implantation. Equally important, this transplanted tissue was able to perform normal liver cell functions after the procedure.
Two of the authors of that paper are Sangeeta Bhatia, director of the Center for Nanomedicine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Christopher Chen, director of Boston University’s Biological Design Center. Satellite Bio technology comes from their research. Bhatia and Chen founded the company in 2020 together with Arnav Chhabra, who is the head of the startup’s R&D platform.
Regenerative medicine has seen regulatory and clinical advances over the past year. Last year, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals received FDA approval for StrataGraft, an engineered skin product for treating burn wounds. The agency also approved Rethymic, a regenerative therapy that Enzyvant Therapeutics developed to treat a rare inherited immune disorder. Meanwhile, Humacyte has reached advanced clinical development with its bioengineered blood vessels.
According to Satellite Bio, the flexibility of its technology allows it to adapt the designed satellites to particular diseases and patient characteristics. The startup did not specify its disease goals other than to say that it is pursuing “elusive and life-threatening diseases.” The company said its initial target is the liver, building on liver disease research that was published five years ago in Science Translational Medicine. At the helm of Satellite Bio is CEO Dave Lennon, the former Novartis executive who led the company in the first approval of gene therapy, a treatment for spinal muscular atrophy.
The $ 110 million funding announced Wednesday is a combination of Series A and initial funding. The Series A funding was led by aMoon Growth. Other investors participating in the new round include former investors Lightspeed, aMoon Velocity, Polaris Partners and Polaris Innovation Fund, as well as new investors Section 32, Catalio Capital Management and Waterman Ventures.
“aMoon is proud of our continued partnership with Satellite Bio in its inspiring mission to restore hope to patients suffering from serious and life-threatening conditions,” said Yair Schindel, co-founder and managing partner of aMoon Fund, in a statement. prepared. “This new wave of tissue therapies will save patients whose only other hope would be organ transplantation or experimental therapies.”
Public domain image by Flickr user NOAA Satellites