Backed by Bayer, Senti Biosciences Snags $105 Million in Series B Fundraising
Backed by Leaps by Bayer, Bay Area-based Senti Biosciences secured $105 million in a Series B financing round that will help the company advance its therapeutic pipeline of allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor natural killer (CAR-NK) cell therapies.
Senti Bio is using synthetic biology to engineer gene circuits, which are designed to program cells to interact in a certain manner within the body, to improve cell and gene therapy products. Senti Bio uses these gene circuits to create what they say are “smarter” cell and gene therapies with enhanced therapeutic properties that aim to increase efficacy, precision and control. Senti Bio’s lead development candidates include next-generation allogeneic CAR-NK cell therapies dubbed SENTI-202 and SENTI-301. SENTI-202 is a logic-gated allogeneic CAR-NK cell therapy for the potential treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) that more precisely targets and eliminates cancer cells while sparing healthy tissues. SENTI-301 is a combinatorial payload-armed allogeneic CAR-NK cell therapy for the potential treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.
In addition to potentially treating cancer with allogeneic CAR-NK cells, the Senti Bio gene circuit technology platform can be deployed into multiple other cell 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, the company said in its announcement.
The funds from the Series B will be used to advance the development of Senti Bio’s preclinical gene circuit assets in oncology and support Investigational New Drug Application studies of its lead candidate this year. Additionally, the funds will be used to expand the company’s gene circuit technology into new therapeutic areas. Senti Bio also plans to scale up clinical manufacturing, including process development and design of a cGMP-compliant manufacturing facility for off-the-shelf allogeneic CAR-NK cell product candidates.
Tim Lu, co-founder and chief executive officer of Senti Bio, expressed gratitude to Leaps by Bayer and the other Series B investors.
“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,” Lu said in a statement.
In addition to Leaps by Bayer, the Series B financing round was supported by 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. Amgen Ventures was one of the key supporters of the company’s $53 million Series A financing round in 2018.
Juergen Eckhardt, head of Leaps by Bayer, said they believe synthetic biology will become an important pillar in next-generation cell and gene therapy. Senti Bio’s technology “fits precisely” within Leaps by Bayer’s ambition to prevent and cure cancer and to regenerate lost tissue function, Eckhardt said in a statement.