Organ-on-a-Chip Company Emulate Closes on $36 Million Series C Financing

Raising Money

Boston-based Emulate closed on a Series C round worth $36 million. It was led by Founders Fund. It also included new investors, ALS Investment Fund, SciFi VC, and members of GlassWall Syndicate Association, in addition to several existing investors.

Emulate focuses on developing “organ-on-a-chip” technology as a possible replacement, or at least adjunct, for animal testing models. The funds raised will be used to expand the functionality of its automated, lab-ready Human Emulation System. The system is made up of Organ-Chips, instrumentation, and software applications. It plans to add biological capabilities to its Organ-Chip products, including the Liver-Chip, Intestine-Chip, Lung-Chip, Brain-Chip and “human-relevant models of thrombosis and immune system modulation.”

In May, Emulate and AstraZeneca formed a strategic partnership, specifically AstraZeneca’s Innovative Medicines and Early Development (IMED) Biotech Unit, to integrate Emulate’s Organs-on-Chips tech within the IMED Drug Safety laboratories. Emulate will co-locate scientists within AstraZeneca’s labs.

“Organs-on-Chips technology has the potential to enhance and accelerate our ability to translate science into innovative medicines for patients,” said Mene Pangalos, executive vice-president of AstraZeneca’s IMED Biotech Unit and Global Business Development, in a statement.

In February, Emulate created a partnership with Roche to use Emulate’s Human Emulation System across R&D programs to “enable more human-relevant studies that will lead to earlier and better prediction of safety and efficacy of drug candidates.”

Geraldine Hamilton, president and chief scientific officer of Emulate, said in a February statement, “Our approach is to start with the patient and end with the patient by using patient-derived cells with Organ-Chips. As we produce more human-relevant data with our Organ-Chips, we look forward to making a positive impact on informing R&D decisions, reducing drug candidate attrition in human clinical trials, and helping to deliver better and safer medicines to patients.”

The company has also partnered with Takeda Pharmaceutical to use Emulate’s Intestine-Chip, Cedars-Sinai for stemcell research, and with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine, to collaborate to evaluate and qualify the use of Emulate’s technology as a platform for toxicology testing. It also has deals with Merck and Janssen/Johnson & Johnson

The funds raised will also be used to develop and enhance the company’s new software applications for data analysis, integrate with standard analytical approaches, and improve collaboration between the teams that use Emulate’s technology platform.

As part of the financing, Aaron VanDevender, chief scientist and principal at Founders Fund, will join Emulate’s board of directors.

“The dependence of drug development on animal models for safety and efficacy testing has hit a wall,” VanDevender said in a statement. “As therapeutic approaches become ever more precise and complex, the limitations of legacy animal models increasingly prevent accurate predictions of drug responses in humans. This crisis has simultaneously put patients at risk of unpredictable side effects while inhibiting the approval of novel life-saving therapies. Emulate’s platform uses human cells to recapitulate human physiology, enabling the development of safer, more efficacious drugs. We believe its adoption by drug developers is a scientific, commercial, and moral imperative.”

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