Bayer leads $105 million investment in Senti Bio to engineer next-generation of cell and gene therapies
Senti Bio, a San Francisco-based health technology startup that uses synthetic biology to engineer gene circuits that improve cell and gene therapy products, said this morning that it has raised a $105 million Series B financing round led by Leaps by Bayer. Additional backers include Matrix Partners China, Mirae Asset Capital, Ridgeback Capital, and Intel Capital as well as existing investors, including New Enterprise Associates (NEA), 8VC, Amgen Ventures, and Lux Capital.
Senti Bio will use the fresh capital infusion to support the development of preclinical oncology programs and the expansion of its gene circuit technology platform across additional delivery modalities and therapeutic areas.
Founded in 2016 by Jim Collins, Philip Lee, Tim Lu, and Wilson Wong, Senti Biosciences is a team of bioengineers, scientists, and entrepreneurs on a mission to treat the most complex and challenging diseases. Led by pioneers in synthetic biology and computation, Senti is using the latest techniques in the fields to build the future of gene and cell-based therapies. A resident company of Johnson & Johnson Innovation (JLABS), Senti’s proprietary synthetic biology platform provides fundamental advantages for therapeutics development.
A gene circuit is an assembly of multi-component genetic constructs specifically designed to program cells to interact with the body’s complex environment using logic to perform desired therapeutic functions. Senti Bio uses these gene circuits to create “smarter” cell and gene therapies with enhanced therapeutic properties that aim to increase efficacy, precision, and control.
Senti Bio is applying its gene circuit technology platform to develop an internal therapeutic pipeline of allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor natural killer (CAR-NK) cells. Senti Bio’s lead development candidates include next-generation allogeneic CAR-NK cell therapies: SENTI-202 for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), SENTI-301 for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and additional candidates for other undisclosed solid tumor targets.
“Leaps by Bayer’s mission is to invest in breakthrough technologies that may transform the lives of millions of patients for the better,” said Juergen Eckhardt, MD, Head of Leaps by Bayer. “We believe that synthetic biology will become an important pillar in next-generation cell and gene therapy and that Senti Bio’s leadership in designing and optimizing biological circuits fits precisely with our ambition to prevent and cure cancer and to regenerate lost tissue function.”
In addition to potentially treating cancer with allogeneic CAR-NK cells, the Senti Bio gene circuit technology platform can be deployed into multiple other cells and gene therapy delivery modalities, across diverse therapeutic areas, such as immunology, neuroscience, cardiovascular disease, regenerative medicine, and genetic diseases – with the potential to move from treatment to cure.
“We are grateful for the support of new and existing investors, including Leaps by Bayer, who believe in our mission of developing gene circuits to program smart cell and gene therapies to improve health outcomes for many people,” said Tim Lu, MD, Ph.D., co-founder, and chief executive officer of Senti Bio. “Over the past two years, our team has designed, built, and tested thousands of sophisticated gene circuits to drive a robust product pipeline, focused initially on allogeneic CAR-NK cell therapies for difficult-to-treat liquid and solid tumor indications. I look forward to continued platform and pipeline advancements, including starting IND-enabling studies in 2021.”
Leaps by Bayer is a subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Bayer that invests in paradigm-shifting advances in the life sciences – targeting the breakthroughs that could fundamentally change the world for the better.