Follow the Money: Whole Blood Product Transfuses Soldiers in Active Combat, UC Davis Launches Psychedelics and Neurotherapeutics Research Institute, More
February 21, 2023 | Funding for various metabolomic research advancements, therapeutic developments, and precision medicine applications, a new federally funded research program testing the safety and efficacy of tools for trauma victims with numerous complex injuries, accelerating research across the field of synthetic biology, and more.
$1.36B: Acquisition for Bioanalytical Characterization Services
Waters Corporation has agreed to acquire Wyatt Technology for $1.36 billion in cash, subject to certain adjustments. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2023, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. By applying Waters’ well-established business model, Empower informatics software, global reach, and scale, Waters and Wyatt are well-positioned to build a high-growth bioanalytical characterization business. In addition, this acquisition aims to broaden Wyatt’s global reach, expand its portfolio, increase its exposure to large molecule applications, and increase Waters’ revenue growth and margin profile.
$46.4M: Federal Funding for Blood Transfusion Product Research
A University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) physician-scientist will head a new federally funded research program to develop and test a whole blood product, storable at room temperature, that can be used to transfuse wounded soldiers in the field within 30 minutes of injury, potentially saving thousands of lives. UMSOM will manage the $46.4M four-year research project administered by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in collaboration with the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and more than a dozen universities and biotech companies. The program will employ sophisticated artificial intelligence, state-of-the-art experimental platforms, and multiple complementary animal models. The product will be tested for efficacy and safety in trauma victims with numerous complex injuries, including shock and traumatic brain injury.
$35M: Series A Funding for RNA Drug Discovery
Atomic AI launched with a $35 million Series A round led by Playground Global. Atomic AI’s proprietary AI-driven 3D RNA structure engine generates RNA structural datasets, integrating machine learning foundation models with large-scale in-house experimental wet-lab biology to enable the world of RNA drug discovery. In particular, Atomic AI’s technology can discover structured, ligandable RNA motifs at unprecedented speed and accuracy—a critical barrier to current approaches in small molecule drug discovery against RNA. Beyond RNA-targeted molecules, the integrated platform will also enable the design of RNA-based medicines and RNA tools.
$25M: Equity Funding for Metabolomics Research and Development
Metabolon, a company providing metabolomics solutions that advance various research, diagnostic, therapeutic development, and precision medicine applications, has closed on $25 million in additional equity funding. The proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes, helping Metabolon accelerate commercialization activities and advance its well-defined research and development roadmap.
$24M: Series B Funding for DNA Synthesis Chip Technology
Evonetix announced it had completed a $24M financing round, extending its entire series B funding to over $54M (about £44M). The investment will enable the continued development of Evonetix’s semiconductor chips to commercial scale and the extension of gene assembly capabilities for its unique binary assembly technology to deliver accurate, gene-length DNA in a benchtop instrument. Evonetix’s proprietary synthesis process uses a novel silicon chip to control the synthesis of DNA at many thousands of independent thermally controlled reaction sites, or “pixels,” and their assembly into highly accurate long DNA on the chip surface through the company’s patented Binary Assembly process. This approach enables the precise synthesis of thousands of sequences on a single chip to meet the demand for complex libraries and assembly of long DNA in days rather than weeks, accelerating research across the exciting field of synthetic biology.
$20M: Grant for Speech and Language Disorder AI Institute
The University at Buffalo (UB) has been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to establish a national institute that develops artificial intelligence systems to identify and assist young children with speech and language processing challenges. The five-year, $20M effort will address the nationwide shortage of speech-language pathologists and provide services to children ages 3 to 10 who are at increased risk of falling behind in their academic and socio-emotional development—issues exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The award, which UB will use to create the AI Institute for Exceptional Education, also will advance foundational AI technologies, human-centered AI design, and learning science that improve educational outcomes for young children.
$17M: Grant for Immunology Data Curation and Analysis
A new grant of over $17 million from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has established La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) as the leading institute for human immunology data curation, analysis, and dissemination. With this funding, LJI has taken the helm of the Human Immunology Project Consortium Data Coordinating Center, a critical tool to fuel scientific collaboration in immune profiling and highlight findings from the overall Human Immunology Project Consortium (HIPC). HIPC projects have highlighted the immune profile or "signature" of steady state versus active immune responses. The new center is funded through NIAID grant number: 1U01AI167892.
$16M: Series A Funding for Antibody Development
Maxion Therapeutics announced the completion of its $16M (£13M) Series A financing. The funds will support the development of novel biologics targeting ion channels and G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) via Maxion’s proprietary, patent-protected KnotBody platform. Ion channels and GPCRs are critical cell surface proteins involved in a wide range of previously untreatable or poorly treated diseases, including autoimmune conditions and chronic pain. The KnotBody platform unlocks the discovery of biologics against ion channels and GPCRs by using naturally occurring cysteine-rich mini proteins called “knottins,” which modulate ion channels and GPCRs but have poor drug-like properties. These are fused onto the surface of antibodies, and the resulting “KnotBodies” combine the functional activity of knottins with the excellent drug properties of antibodies. Maxion’s early research and development efforts have yielded KnotBodies to several therapeutically relevant targets, which will be developed as selective and long-acting first-in-class and best-in-class therapeutics.
$11.9M: Series A and Grant Funding for Early Cancer Detection
Dxcover Limited announced it has raised £9.7M in Series A and grant financing. The funding will support the development of the Dxcover Liquid Biopsy platform for detecting early-stage cancers, including brain and colorectal cancers. Dxcover’s novel liquid biopsy platform uses infrared spectroscopy to analyze patient blood samples and artificial intelligence algorithms to detect the presence or absence of disease. Having proven the technology’s success in detecting brain cancer, the company expanded to eight cancers in 2022 and demonstrated an enhanced ability to detect early-stage tumors with the Dxcover platform.
$6M: Seed Funding for AI-Driven Polymer Design Platform
Nanite announced the closing of a $6M seed investment round to advance their AI-driven polymer design platform focused on next-generation, non-viral gene delivery. The company has developed a unique AI-driven approach to polymer nanoparticle design. Nanite’s proprietary platform, SAYER, combines automated polymer synthesis and high-throughput in vivo screening with machine learning to design “programmable” polymer nanoparticles, delivering a broad range of genetic cargoes with tissue specificity. The company plans to work with genetic medicine companies and patient advocacy groups to develop fit-for-purpose delivery vehicles across different indications as part of its delivery-as-a-service partnership model.
$5.37M: Funding for Mental Health and Wellbeing Platform
Dublin-based Spectrum.Life raised an additional €5M for its mental health and wellbeing platform, bringing the company’s total funding to €9M. The startup takes a holistic end-to-end approach to support people in advance of, through, and beyond crisis, enabling them to thrive in work and outside of it. The platform provides holistic support, including mental health and wellbeing coaches, open-ended therapy, a digital clinic, employee benefits advisory, and financial advice. Spectrum.Life reports that in 2022, employers saw a 43% overall increase in productivity and a 94% reduction in those reporting as severely distressed after treatment. This latest investment will be used to further develop and scale the Spectrum.Life platform, including the expansion of its team and the addition of new features and resources.
$5M: Funding for Psychedelics and Neurotherapeutics Institute
The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) launched the Institute for Psychedelics and Neurotherapeutics to advance basic knowledge about the mechanisms of psychedelics and translate it into safe and effective treatments for diseases such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease, among others. The new institute will bring scientists across various disciplines and partner with the pharmaceutical industry to ensure that key discoveries lead to new medicines for patients. The UC Davis institute will be funded in part by a contribution of approximately $5 million from the deans of the College of Letters and Science and the School of Medicine, the Vice Chancellor for Research, and the Provost’s office. The institute also aims to spin out companies and build strong collaborations with pharmaceutical partners through licensing and sponsored research agreements.
$4.78M: Award for Implantable Continuous Blood Pressure Sensor
The European Union has awarded a European consortium €4.4M for the SMARTSHAPE project to focus on developing an implantable medical device for continuous blood pressure monitoring. High-risk patients with elevated blood pressure require long-term monitoring to tailor drug treatments and improve healthcare outcomes. Still, there is no clinically accepted continuous beat-to-beat blood pressure monitoring method that patients can use outside the hospital.
$2.37M: Seed Funding for Client/Patient Communications App Expansion
Yobi announced it raised $2.37M as part of its oversubscribed seed round. The capital will go toward several endeavors to enhance their AI-focused customer communications app, with a focus on incorporating generative artificial intelligence to augment the businesses of Yobi's customers. Yobi is fortunate to have Dr. Edward Zuckerberg—the father of Facebook founder and its parent company Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg—a dentist who serves as a strategic advisor to oral healthcare startups. Yobi customers will experience better activation and onboarding flows, increased brand loyalty and revenue, reduced marketing and advertising costs, and a consistent customer experience at every stage. Small businesses can use Yobi’s powerful AI technology that supports translation and provides a business assistant, call/messaging capabilities, analytics, and reporting.
$1.2M: Grant for Pandemic Diagnostic Assay Platform
APIS Assay Technologies has announced that Clickmer Systems and Fraunhofer IMS have been granted €1.1M for their collaboration project, InfektoFlex, by Projektträger Jülich. The project's aim—due to commence in spring 2023—is to establish a novel diagnostic assay platform that enables a fast response time towards emerging pandemic situations. Clickmer Systems GmbH, owned by UK company APIS, uses Nobel Prize-winning technology ‘Click’ Chemistry. The development time of Clickmers is significantly shorter than antibodies, which are currently used in many diagnostic assay platforms. By combining Clickmers with optical Nanosensors, InfektoFlex will develop a diagnostic assay platform with superior sensitivity and specificity and a faster response time for detecting socially relevant emerging pathogens.