Bionaut Labs | November 29, 2022
Bionaut Labs, the company that uses microscale robots to revolutionize the treatment of central nervous system diseases and disorders, announced $43.2M in a Series B round of financing led by Khosla Ventures, bringing the company’s total financing raised to date to $63.2 million. Also participating in the round are new investors Deep Insight, OurCrowd, PSPRS, Sixty Degree Capital, Dolby Family Ventures, GISEV Family Ventures, What if Ventures, Tintah Grace and Gaingels, along with all existing investors - Upfront Ventures, BOLD Capital Partners, Revolution VC, and Compound.
Many diseases of the brain and central nervous system are hard to treat because it is difficult to deliver therapeutics beyond the blood-brain barrier and reach deep locations in the midbrain with precision. Through magnetic propulsion, Bionauts™ can navigate the depths of the human body to deliver drugs locally, generating efficacy and avoiding side effects and toxicity from systemically delivered drugs. By reaching the midbrain safely through novel routes, Bionaut Labs aims to develop solutions to treat the most debilitating conditions including Parkinson’s disease and Huntington's disease, malignant glioma and hydrocephalus.
Funds will be used to advance clinical development of the company’s lead programs against malignant glioma brain tumors and Dandy-Walker Syndrome (a rare pediatric neurological disorder). Funds will also support further development of its proprietary Bionaut™ treatment platform, allowing future expansion of clinical targets and progression through Bionaut’s two accelerated FDA designations. Bionaut Labs will release major pre-clinical data packages from IDE and IND enabling studies in 2023, with the goal of initiating human clinical trials in 2024.
“There has been a dearth of innovation around treatments for conditions that cause tremendous suffering, in large part because past failures have discouraged even the best of researchers. Bionaut Labs remains committed to finding new ways to treat these devastating diseases, which are long overdue for a breakthrough.”
Michael Shpigelmacher, co-founder and CEO, Bionaut Labs
Bionaut Labs is co-founded by two robotics entrepreneurs, Michael Shpigelmacher and Aviad Maizels, who previously co-founded PrimeSense, the company that developed the facial recognition tech behind iPhone’s FaceID. Its leadership and medical team consists of experts across robotics, neuroscience, biology and drug development.
“We are extremely excited about the transformative potential Bionaut presents in treating debilitating neurological disorders,” said Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures. “Anatomically precise treatment will make traditionally-used methods seem archaic, and Bionaut is at the forefront of this movement.”
“Bionaut Labs tackles a complex pharmaceutical problem which many companies have failed to address in the past,” said Giammaria Giuliani, director of the GISEV Family Office. “As pioneers of micro-robotics for CNS treatment, the company enjoys a strong first-mover advantage and carries great promise.”
As neurodegeneration continues to grow in prevalence in the aging global population, Bionaut Labs offers unprecedented therapeutic access to the brain and other hard-to-reach locations in the body, diagnosing and treating diseases that were previously unreachable. Bionaut Labs will transform the way the biopharmaceutical industry develops treatments by offering a mechanism to engineer the therapeutic index for optimal efficacy and safety.
About Bionaut Labs
Bionaut Labs is a biotech company pioneering precision micro-technology with the deployment of microscale robots to remove the barriers of localized treatment and detection of diseases. Magnetic propulsion-controlled Bionauts navigate to deep locations in the human body and brain safely and precisely through non-linear 3D trajectories, making Bionaut Labs the first to access the midbrain through previously inaccessible anatomical routes. Bionauts can perform localized treatment, detection and precise medical procedures to deliver outcomes that were previously unattainable. The FDA has granted Bionaut Labs a Humanitarian Use Device designation for BNL-201, a micro-robot design to treat Dandy Walker Malformation, and an Orphan Drug Designation for BNL 101, a drug-device combination for treatment of malignant glioma.
MycoWorks | October 19, 2022
Biotechnology company MycoWorks announced today its newest investor GM Ventures, the investment arm of General Motors Co. and their long-term agreement to co-develop Fine Mycelium™ materials for potential use in a range of applications within automotive design. MycoWorks' collaboration with GM marks the exploration of its entry into one of the largest end-use markets for leather and demonstrates the significant opportunity to create more sustainable materials for the automotive space.
MycoWorks' breakthrough Fine Mycelium technology engineers mycelium, the infinitely renewable root structure of mushrooms, to craft a range of natural, customizable leather alternatives that match the performance of the highest quality animal leather with lower environmental impact. The company's platform has enabled a new class of premium, non-animal materials which could have the opportunity to support GM's continued progress toward its vision of a world with zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion.
Animal-free and chrome-free, Fine Mycelium also has superior strength at low thicknesses, offering a compelling pathway to efficiency and weight reduction in car interiors while still meeting the most stringent performance, aesthetic, and environmental requirements of the automotive space.
"Working with General Motors to introduce Fine Mycelium to the automotive industry is an enormous step forward in the global new materials revolution. MycoWorks's collaboration with GM is a first for us outside of the fashion industry, demonstrating the enormous potential and applications for Fine Mycelium."
Matt Scullin, CEO of MycoWorks
"Our strategic investment in MycoWorks aims to advance the development of sustainable automotive materials," said Wade Sheffer, managing director of GM Ventures. "This collaboration will help facilitate R&D efforts and build more sustainable alternatives for our designers."
In August 2022, following an oversubscribed $125M Series C funding round, MycoWorks broke ground on its first full-scale production facility, which will enable initial mass-production volumes of several million square feet of Fine Mycelium materials per year, dramatically increase production and partnership capacity, and service Fine Mycelium to a wider range of industries and companies.
In 2013, co-founders Philip Ross and Sophia Wang formed MycoWorks, a San Francisco-based biomaterials company dedicated to bringing new mycelium materials to the world. MycoWorks' patented Fine Mycelium technology, an advanced manufacturing platform and breakthrough in materials science, engineers mycelium during growth to form proprietary, interlocking cellular structures for unparalleled strength and durability.
About General Motors
General Motors is a global company focused on advancing an all-electric future that is inclusive and accessible to all. At the heart of this strategy is the Ultium battery platform, which powers everything from mass-market to high-performance vehicles. General Motors, its subsidiaries and its joint venture entities sell vehicles under the Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Cadillac, Baojun and Wuling brands.
RESEARCH, INDUSTRY OUTLOOK
BigHat Biosciences, Inc. | November 30, 2022
BigHat Biosciences, Inc., a biotechnology company with a machine learning-guided antibody discovery and development platform, announced a collaboration with Merck, known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, to apply the company’s technology to design candidates for up to three drug discovery programs.
BigHat’s design platform, Milliner, integrates a high-speed characterization with ML technologies to engineer antibodies with more complex functions and better biophysical properties. This approach could help reduce the difficulty of optimizing antibodies and other therapeutic proteins.
Under the collaboration, BigHat and Merck will collaborate to optimize up to three proteins by leveraging BigHat’s platform to synthesize, express, purify, and characterize molecules. Mark DePristo, co-founder and CEO of BigHat, continued, "We are thrilled to be collaborating with Merck's world-class drug development teams to design safer, more effective antibodies for these important therapeutic programs.”
The teams have initiated work on the first program and are looking forward to using the power of the complementary skills sets within each research team to generate high-quality lead antibodies. “We are excited to begin this collaboration to advance next-generation antibody therapeutics to patients,” said Elizabeth Schwarzbach, BigHat’s Chief Business Officer. "This agreement with Merck brings us a major step closer to our goal of 3-5 deep collaborations with leading biopharmas to complement our internal therapeutic pipeline."
“This agreement with BigHat expands Merck’s strategy of applying AI/ML across our drug discovery capabilities. We look forward to working with the team to leverage BigHat’s technology and expertise in enabling molecular design of novel biologic candidates.”
Juan Alvarez, vice president of Biologics Discovery, Merck Research Laboratories
About BigHat Biosciences, Inc.
BigHat Biosciences is designing safer, more effective antibody therapies for patients using machine learning and synthetic biology. BigHat integrates a wet lab for high-speed characterization with machine learning technologies to guide the search for better antibodies. They apply these design capabilities to develop new generations of safer and more effective treatments for patients suffering from today’s most challenging diseases. BigHat is a Series B biotech outside San Francisco with a team-oriented, inclusive, and family-friendly culture. BigHat’s broad pipeline of wholly-owned and partnered therapeutic programs span many disparate indications with high unmet need, such as cancer, inflammation, and infectious disease. BigHat has raised over $100M from top investors, including Section 32, a16z, and 8VC.