Rare Daily Staff

Synthetic biology company 64x Bio raised $55 million in a series A financing round to fund the expansion of its VectorSelect platform, a novel cell line engineering technology that has the potential to revolutionize the economics and accessibility of gene therapy.

Lifeforce Capital led the financing, with significant participation from Northpond Ventures, individual investor Michael Chambers (co-founder and former CEO of Aldevron), Future Ventures, and insider First Round Capital. Chris Gibson (co-founder and CEO of Recursion), Alix Ventures, as well as previous investors, Fifty Years, SV Angel, BoxGroup, and Refactor Capital, also participated in the oversubscribed round.

64x Bio aims to address a critical manufacturing bottleneck that could limit the reach of lifesaving gene therapies to patients.

The funding will advance 64x’s cell line engineering platform VectorSelect to design improved cell lines for a wide range of gene therapies. 64x will also use the proceeds to grow its employee base and partnership efforts with leading gene therapy companies, through the expansion of additional intellectual property, operations, and business development infrastructure.

“This series A financing will allow us to take VectorSelect to the next level and grow our business infrastructure to establish more partnerships,” said Alexis Rovner, CEO and co-founder, 64x Bio. “With the support of our incredible investors and scientific team, we aim to become the leading developer of vector manufacturing cell lines, to revolutionize the economics of gene therapy and the reach of these lifesaving medicines to patients.”

“Viral vectors, engineered viruses that deliver a genetic payload to cells, are a critical component of many biologic drugs. Current vector manufacturing cell lines suffer from poor yield and quality, limiting the scale and impact of biologics drug development. This limitation is a major bottleneck for the gene therapy field, which relies heavily on vectors,” said Sander Duncan, general partner at Lifeforce Capital, who joins 64x’s Board of Directors. “64x’s technology platform VectorSelect has the potential to reduce cost and increase manufacturing capacity by orders of magnitude.”

VectorSelect allows 64x to map millions of unique cellular genotypes to their individual vector production phenotypes. In this way, the technology enables high-throughput data generation from massively multiplexed experiments on millions of candidate cell lines simultaneously. 64x then applies computational tools to its growing CellMap database of proprietary mutant data to filter trillions of possible solutions into millions of screenable genetic combinations, further increasing the speed and efficacy of cell line development. Together, this enables discovery of cell lines with otherwise unattainable and radically improved productivities. The company is currently focused on cell and gene therapy and plans to expand to other markets in the future.

With current cell lines, vector manufacturing carries tremendous cost and in-house manufacturing capacity is exceeded for even the smallest disease populations. For gene therapy to deliver on its potential to address widespread diseases, capacity would need to increase by six orders of magnitude in many cases.

“The industry has poured billions of dollars into the expansion of vector manufacturing facilities in recent years. However, the problem is more fundamental than physical infrastructure. This is a genetics problem, and the solutions are going to be in tailoring how a cell interacts with the viral components,” said George Church, co-founder of 64x Bio, professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and founding Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University. “Until now, genetic tailoring of manufacturing cells has failed to deliver. Overcoming the cellular barriers to viral production will require many cellular mutations in combination, which means testing potentially trillions of mutant cells. Existing cell line engineering and screening technologies have not been up to the challenge.”

Photo: Alexis Rovner, CEO and co-founder, 64x Bio

X