CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Opsonix, Inc. today announced the company’s launch with an $8 million Series A financing to develop a pathogen-extracting therapy designed to remove infectious pathogens and toxins from circulating blood. This treatment potentially offers a new broad-spectrum approach to treat blood-borne infectious diseases, including sepsis. Opsonix will use the proceeds from the financing to advance the development of its extracorporeal pathogen-extracting therapy. The Series A financing was led by Baxter Ventures, alongside of investment by private investor Hansjörg Wyss.
Opsonix’s core technology is based on proprietary pathogen-capture proteins. Its lead molecule is a recombinant human protein derived from mannose binding lectin (MBL) fused to the Fc region of human immunoglobulin (FcMBL). When Opsonix’s FcMBL is attached to the membrane of a dialyzer-type device, it can remove a broad range of bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and toxins responsible for initiating the sepsis cascade, including antibiotic-resistant organisms. Opsonix’s pathogen-extracting therapy has been designed to work in synergy with conventional antibiotic treatments.
“Opsonix’s pathogen-extracting therapy provides a novel therapeutic solution leveraging the broad binding activities of a natural human protein that may rapidly remove sepsis-causing pathogens - and the toxins they release - from a patient’s blood,” said Eric Devroe, Ph.D., Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Opsonix. “With our FcMBL-based pathogen-extracting therapy, treatment of blood-borne infectious disease can be initiated earlier in the course of infection, when it is most needed, without having to wait to identify the disease-causing pathogen. With the strong support of our investors and a compelling body of evidence developed by our scientific founders, Opsonix will move forward expeditiously with preclinical studies to advance our pathogen-extracting therapy.”
Opsonix’s pathogen-capture proteins are engineered versions of human blood opsonins – molecular components of the innate immune system that help to clear pathogens and the toxins they release. The company develops therapeutic products by applying recombinant protein engineering to harness the unique binding properties of opsonins that enable them to clear a broad range of infectious microbes and toxic components from blood, which can stimulate the inflammatory cascade that leads to sepsis.
In studies conducted and published by Opsonix’s scientific founders at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, FcMBL-based pathogen-extracting therapies have been shown to work in synergy with conventional antibiotics, as well as to clear blood of antibiotic-resistant organisms. Hence, Opsonix’s sepsis therapy has the potential to be used not only in combination with existing antibiotics, but also to treat patients when conventional therapeutic options are not available.
Leadership Science and Founding Team
Opsonix’s scientific founders, Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael Super, Ph.D., carried out the original protein engineering and initial design and experimental validation of the FcMBL-enabled pathogen-extracting therapy at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Ingber and Super are pioneers in translating innovative design principles into healthcare products. They are also co-principal investigators on a project for sepsis treatment funded by the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Dialysis-Like Therapeutics Program, which led to the technology that Opsonix is commercializing.
Prior to being appointed Chief Executive Officer of Opsonix, founder Eric Devroe, Ph.D. worked closely with Ingber and Super as an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the Wyss Institute where he developed the company’s product development, business, and fundraising strategy. He brings more than 15 years of experience in the life sciences, including roles in venture capital, business development, and as a founding team member of multiple start-up companies.
Opsonix has an exclusive, worldwide license to intellectual property from Harvard University covering the use of engineered opsonin proteins in pathogen-extracting devices and companion diagnostics, and it is uniquely positioned to advance this technology into therapeutic products for the benefit of millions of sepsis patients worldwide.
Sepsis is a life-threatening, systemic inflammatory response to infection. Once triggered by pathogens, microbial debris or released toxins, sepsis can escalate quickly, often leading to organ failure and death. It is one of the most difficult diseases to diagnose and treat because the underlying infection can be caused by many types of pathogens and toxins, including bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses, and conventional blood cultures are frequently negative. Without a rapid and reliable method to identify the causative pathogen, treatment is often ineffective. As a result, even with the best medical care, the mortality rate from sepsis is greater than 30 percent, leading to over 300,000 deaths in the US and more than 8 million deaths worldwide each year. In addition, the incidence of sepsis continues to increase for a number of reasons, including changes in patient demographics and the emergence of new antibiotic-resistant organisms.
About Baxter Ventures
Baxter Ventures is a venture initiative established in 2011 by Baxter International Inc. to invest in companies with innovative technologies, products and therapies with the ability to improve patient care globally and maximize value for investors and entrepreneurs. Baxter International Inc. is a global, diversified healthcare company that applies a unique combination of expertise in biotechnology, medical devices and pharmaceuticals to create products that advance patient care worldwide.
Opsonix is developing pathogen-extracting therapies to transform the treatment of blood borne infectious diseases, including sepsis. The company’s proprietary expertise is creating engineered pathogen-capture proteins derived from opsonins, which are natural components of our innate immune system that bind all types of infectious invaders and toxins, and thereby enable their clearance from our bodies. Opsonix’s lead pathogen-capture protein, FcMBL, is being developed as an extracorporeal therapy that treats blood outside the body to remove a broad range of pathogens and toxins responsible for initiating the sepsis cascade without having to first identify the disease-causing agent.
For more information, visit www.opsonixbio.com.
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