Be Bio Scores $130M for New Class of Cellular Medicine


Be Biopharma, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based pioneer in engineered B cell medicines (BeCM), closed a significant $130M financing on Thursday. The funding, led by prestigious life science investors such as ARCH Venture Partners, Bristol Myers Squibb, Atlas Ventures, Takeda Ventures and RA Capital Management will help Be Bio become a leader in the exploratory new BeCM field.

The funding will be used to further Be Bio’s proprietary autologous and allogeneic BeCM platform. The company hopes the platform will help discover multiple therapies for cancer, rare diseases, and eventually, infectious diseases, neurological conditions and autoimmune diseases.

"The human B cell produces thousands of proteins per second. Be Bio is harnessing this remarkable cell to engineer a new class of cellular medicines that produce durable therapeutic proteins in vivo with the potential ability to dose titrate, and re-dose when required, without the need for toxic pre-conditioning," said Joanne Smith-Farrell, Ph.D., CEO of Be Bio.

Among cellular therapies, B cell treatments hold particular promise. B cells are the body’s “native protein factories” that engraft in bone marrow and produce proteins that fight diseases and maintain health. By controlling protein production, researchers hope to create a durable and redoseable class of medicines that don’t require toxic conditioning like chemotherapy. This type of medication could cure many types of cancers that are caused by misfolded proteins, as well as enzyme deficiencies and autoimmune conditions.

Be Biopharma is a new player in the BeCM field. The company was founded in October 2020, which is also when it had its Series A financing worth $52 million.

If Beo Bio wants to succeed, it will have to face older leaders such as Akeso Biopharma, which recently presented data at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting on its AK131 therapy that stimulates antigen-specific B cell activation. At the same meeting, Neoleukin Therapeutics presented preclinical data about its NL-201 drug, which demonstrated antitumor activity in B cell lymphoma models. Competitor ImmunoPrecise has an entire platform dedicated to B cell target selection.

Still, Be Bio may have an edge over competitors with the newly announced members of its Board of Directors. Many of the newcomers are from the same companies that invested in the financing: Steven Gillis, Ph.D., is the managing director at ARCH Venture Partners. Observers of the board include Robert Nelsen, co-founder and managing director of ARCH, and Robert Plenge, M.D., Ph.D., currently the senior vice president and head of Bristol Myers Squibb’s Immunology, Cardiovascular and Fibrosis Thematic Research Center.

The Board already had several distinguished leaders. Original members include David Rawlings, M.D, and Richard James, Ph.D., both from Seattle Children's Research Institute.

"Be Bio’s leadership has an exemplary record of developing and commercializing products in the cell and gene therapy field and I am encouraged by their progress since launch. The untapped potential of B cell medicines is exciting, as is Be Bio’s highly modular platform that could rapidly unlock a pipeline of product candidates across a variety of serious diseases," Gillis said.

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