BOSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Manifold Bio, a spinout from George Church’s lab at Harvard Medical School focused on dramatically increasing the throughput of protein therapeutics testing in vivo, announced today the close of a $5.4 million Series Seed investment round. Playground Global led the round and was joined by pre-seed lead Fifty Years and early investors GETTYLAB and Allston Venture Fund. The investment will enable the company to expand the team and accelerate the development of a proprietary protein quantitation platform.
Manifold Bio was founded by CEO Gleb Kuznetsov, Ph.D., and CSO Pierce Ogden, Ph.D., along with George Church, Ph.D., Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. They are joined by co-founder and Head of Business Development Shane Lofgren who previously helped build companies that emerged from Stanford and MD Anderson.
“The most valuable data on a candidate drug comes from testing it in a living system,” says co-founder and CEO Gleb Kuznetsov. “Despite the advent of high-throughput technologies early in the discovery pipeline, drug development teams eventually run into the bottleneck of testing only one molecule at a time in the most relevant biological assays and animals. At Manifold Bio, we’re focused on building a platform that removes this barrier and allows us and our partners to pursue cures for devastating diseases much more rapidly.”
“We’ve seen exponential advances that allow us to synthesize millions of strands of DNA and sequence billions of DNA bases, but the number of drugs that can be tested in relevant animal models remains in the single digits,” said co-founder George Church, who introduced Manifold Bio in a keynote last week at PEGS, the premier industry protein engineering conference. “With the technology and talented interdisciplinary team we’re building at Manifold Bio, we’ll be able to bring the massively parallel economics of multiplexing to bear on engineering protein therapeutics.”
Manifold Bio’s platform will allow multiplexed (pooled) tracking and quantification of thousands of unique protein designs, including monoclonal antibodies and other protein therapeutic scaffolds, across a range of complex testing environments.
“By turning protein engineering into a DNA synthesis and sequencing problem, we’re able to learn biological design principles directly from rich data generated by our novel in vivo assays,” co-founder and CSO Pierce Ogden said. Last year, Ogden published a ground-breaking paper in Science demonstrating in vivo screening of more than 200,000 gene therapy virus designs. “Now, we’re building the platform technology for the larger space of protein therapeutics. The key is making it possible to test and quantify mixtures of designs directly where it matters--in vivo disease models. These advances will pave the way toward our goal of transforming drug discovery into measurement-driven drug design.”
“Too many of the drug discovery startups we see are focused primarily on computation and improving the beginning of the drug development funnel, only to revert to traditional and painfully inefficient artisanal methods as therapies approach the clinic,” said Jory Bell, Partner at Playground Global. “Manifold Bio has developed an entirely new approach to engineering which profoundly impacts all phases of development.”
“By enabling high throughput in vivo screening of protein therapeutics, Manifold Bio can discover new biologics at scale,” said Seth Bannon, Founding Partner at Fifty Years. “Their approach allows generating valuable data faster and at a lower financial and ethical cost, leading to cures that have evaded traditional methods.”
Playground Global’s Jory Bell will join Manifold Bio’s board of directors.
Manifold Bio’s mission is to bring the power of multiplexed measurement to engineering life-saving therapeutics. Founded in 2019 by leading biological engineers, the company is headquartered in Boston, Mass. Visit manifold.bio for more information.