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SAN CARLOS, Calif., Jan. 16, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — CellFE, Inc., an innovative startup developing a microfluidics based device to deliver gene-editing molecules, today announced it has raised $3.6 million in an initial Series Seed. The oversubscribed round is co-led by Cota Capital and Dynamk Capital, and joined by Embark Ventures. The round is expected to close with additional investors by the end of January 2020. The investment will be used to fuel the progress of the CellFE team towards the company mission of enabling the engineering of the next generation cell therapies. This funding reflects the continued interest of the venture firms in the rapidly evolving cell therapy sector.
“CellFE will enable the efficient engineering of therapeutic cells at low cost, thus increasing patient access to life-saving cell therapies,” said Alla Zamarayeva, CEO of CellFE. “While today’s cell engineering uses viral vectors to deliver gene-editing molecules into cells, viruses are limited in the size of the molecule they can carry. This makes them unsuitable for next generation therapies. In addition, viral manufacturing is complex and costly and poses potential safety risks. Our patent-protected microfluidic technology can deliver large molecules into the cells efficiently, with high throughput, and at a fraction of the cost. We are thrilled about Cota and Dynamk joining the board of directors. In addition to capital, they bring vast experience and support in product development and commercialization.”
The cell and gene therapy sectors are still in the early stages of development, especially, from the perspective of the cell manufacturing technology. The challenges include the development of robust, safe, and highly adaptive manufacturing platforms that can eliminate diverse obstacles related to the efficient manufacturing of living drugs from patient cells. CellFE has created an elegant approach to one of the major bottlenecks in the manufacturing of gene modified cell therapies – how to efficiently deliver gene-editing payloads with high throughput, while preserving cell function and viability. CellFE’s technology uses rapid cell compressions that drive cells to uptake molecules from the surrounding fluid. This technology enables the manufacturing of ex vivo cell and gene therapies in a compact, scalable, and tunable manner, with best-in-class throughput from research to clinical scale.
The challenge for any early stage company in the cell and gene therapy manufacturing market is to quickly convert initial research experience into a cGMP commercial platform and scale up. There is enormous focus on this rapidly evolving market not only from the established pharmaceutical players, but also from rapidly developing innovative startups. It is a critical time for new market entrants to establish their footprint and scale up quickly, which requires early-stage and growth funding.
“Cell and gene therapies are one of the fastest growing sectors in biotechnology today. However, the manufacturing technology needed for such therapies requires further refinement. CellFE’s technology provides a new alternative for high throughput, rapid, and more affordable manufacturing by enabling faster cell gene-editing. We look forward to supporting the CellFE team to scale their business and make their technology broadly available.” – Dr. Gustavo Mahler, Venture Partner, Dynamk Capital.