The drug discovery pipeline can take, on average, a decade to get from the lab to the patient. Ori Biotech aims to speed up the innovation of cell and gene therapies via the manufacturing platform it is bringing to market.
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The London and Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey-based company is developing a platform that closes, automates and standardizes manufacturing for cell and gene therapy developers so they can move their treatments from the pre-clinical process through to scale commercially.
“These products are super expensive to manufacture, and even with the biggest good manufacturing practices in place, you couldn’t do beyond a few thousand doses,” Farlan Veraitch, Ph.D., co-founder and chief scientific officer at Ori Biotech, told Crunchbase News. “We are using our novel automation to reduce the cost of goods and the footprint. Producing hundreds of thousands of doses per year is impossible right now, but with Ori you will be able to do it.”
Helping the company get its platform on the market is a new $30 million Series A round of funding led by Northpond Ventures, with participation from Octopus Ventures and Ori’s existing institutional investors: Amadeus Capital Partners, Delin Ventures and Kindred Capital. The new funding gives Ori Biotech a total of $40 million in funding since its inception in 2015, including a $10 million seed round in 2018, Veraitch said.
In addition to taking the platform to the market, estimated to be in late 2021 or early 2022, the company expects to double its employee count in the next four months and double that again by next year. Currently, the company has eight employees, including its first two in the U.S.
The company has been working with external partners over the past four months doing testing. One partner is already getting good results from testing the platform on its treatment for solid tumors, Ori Biotech’s CEO Jason Foster said in an interview.
“We are hoping to grow our external partnerships from three to six in the next year,” Foster added.
Meanwhile, the company is addressing a $9 billion market that has 1,500 gene therapy clinical trials going on in cancer, diabetes and rare diseases. There are approximately eight approved products, and most are in pre-clinical or Phase 1 testing, he said.
Sharon Kedar, co-founder and partner at Northpond Ventures, said in an interview that Veraitch is “obsessed” with how cell and gene therapies need to be brought to market.
Northpond looked at a lot of companies in this space, and thought the Ori Biotech team and modular approach was differentiated and had the opportunity to change how these therapies are made.
“Farlan and Jason are phenomenal humans doing critical work,” she said. “Globally speaking, the health care system is broken, and the cost of developing drugs is outpacing the ability to pay for them. Now you can treat someone on a personalized basis without the cost burden, and Ori has a chance to be that solution.”
Illustration: Li-Anne Dias
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