BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--SQZ Biotech (SQZ), the pioneering company whose CellSqueeze platform enables a variety of materials to enter a cell with unprecedented efficacy, announced today $5 million in Series A funding, led by Polaris Partners with participation from 20/20 Healthcare Partners and others. The financing round follows a $1 million seed investment, as well as numerous grants and awards earned by the company since its founding in 2013. The funding will be used towards further development of the platform and exploration of clinical indications enabled by the technology’s superior cell engineering capabilities.
Discovered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professors Drs. Klavs Jensen, Robert Langer, and Armon Sharei, cell squeeze technology is a microfluidic chip that enables the delivery of materials into almost any cell type, including primary human-derived cells. SQZ maintains the exclusive worldwide license from MIT for CellSqueeze for any application. Dr. Sharei, who serves as Chief Executive Officer of SQZ, expressed his excitement about this ground breaking technology:
“The ability to safely and simply introduce molecules to human cells has vast implications in our ability to engineer a patient’s cells,” said Dr. Sharei. “Our plans are to explore the potential of this technology to engineer patient-derived cells in numerous disease applications where one can use the power of the patient’s own immune system to combat disease.”
The funding culminates an exciting year in which SQZ achieved a number of significant milestones and was recognized for both its progress and promise. Thus far in 2015, the company has issued two publications in PLOS ONE and Scientific Reports that explore applications of the technology in immunotherapies. In October, the company was the grand prize winner of the 2014 Mass Challenge startup competition and the CASIS-Boeing Prize for Technology in Space, which looks to make use of the CellSqueeze platform on the International Space Station. In November, CellSqeeze was named one of the top 10 world changing ideas of 2014 by Scientific American.
Per Dr. Jensen, "This collaboration has been a unique opportunity to apply microfluidic techniques to the long standing challenge of intracellular delivery. This platform has provided a paradigm shift in the delivery landscape because it has demonstrated up to 100x greater efficacy in some applications. Indeed, as Dr. Langer noted, “By addressing one of the fundamental barriers to cell engineering, we believe this technology can potentially lead to a revolution in cell therapies."
According to Amy Schulman, Executive Chair of the SQZ Board of Directors and Polaris Venture Partner, the company has the ideal combination of science and leadership to make a sizable impact across the biotech industry:
“SQZ is a unique company, powered by talented scientists, an exceptional discovery and a commitment to meaningful clinical translation,” said Schulman. “This initial round of financing represents the first step in a journey that has the potential to provide a therapeutic dimension heretofore unobtainable.”
About SQZ Biotech
Many promising therapeutic modalities have limited clinical efficacy due to the challenges of delivering molecules into cells. SQZ Biotech seeks to address this fundamental problem by developing its CellSqueeze platform for use in drug discovery and clinical applications. SQZ’s technology seeks to overcome longstanding barriers in the field by facilitating more effective access to the intracellular space. Through internal research programs and external partnerships, SQZ is leading a revolution in scientists’ approach to disease research and clinical therapies, developing novel methods to engineer cell function and harness the power of a patient’s own cells to combat disease more effectively across a broad range of indications.