Be Biopharma Launches with $52 Million to Advance B Cells as Medicines
October 22, 2020
Rare Daily Staff
Be Biopharma has launched with $52 million in a series A financing to develop B cells as medicines to treat diseases with the human body’s native protein factories.
Atlas Venture and RA Capital Management led the financing and were joined by Alta Partners, Longwood Fund, and Takeda Ventures.
B cells are prolific protein producers that can be collected from peripheral blood, have a programmable lifetime that could last decades, can target specific tissues, and have broad, customizable functionality.
The company was founded on the premise that the varied functions of B cells suggest that B cell medicines can address a range of conditions including autoimmune diseases, cancer, and monogenic disorders including enzyme deficiencies, as well as enhance the immune response to infectious pathogens. These medicines are designed to be durable, re-dosable and administered without toxic conditioning, creating new avenues to halt or reverse severe diseases.
Be Biopharma (Be Bio) plans to use this funding to precisely engineer B cells to treat a range of diseases, building on the pioneering work of co-founders David Rawlings and Richard James at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.
“Be Bio is capitalizing on the unique attributes of B cells to create a new category of medicine that is distinct from traditional cell or gene therapy,” said David Steinberg, CEO, co-founder and director, Be Biopharma and general partner, Longwood Fund. “B cells can be engineered to express a wide variety of proteins, have the potential to generate durable responses, and can be dose-titrated and administered multiple times without the need for toxic preconditioning. We believe Be Bio is at the forefront of a new approach to fighting disease.”
B cells play a key role in combatting diseases by catalyzing humoral immunity – the arm of the immune system that manufactures large quantities of proteins to neutralize disease-causing pathogens and manipulate immune cell behavior.
“Today, this powerful part of the immune system is only passively and/or indirectly addressed therapeutically,” said Be Biopharma co-founder David Rawlings, director, Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and professor of pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Our ambition is to advance the field by building a new class of engineered B cell medicines that will provide direct control over the power of humoral immunity and help transform the prognosis for patients who currently have limited treatment options.”
In addition to Rawlings, James and Steinberg, Be Bio’s co-founders are Aleks Radovic-Moreno, president and director, and Lea Hachigian, with Longwood Fund. The Board of Directors also includes Josh Resnick, managing director, RA Capital Management; Jason Rhodes, partner, Atlas Venture; and Dan Janney, managing partner, Alta Partners.
Photo: Be Biopharma co-founder David Rawlings
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