IndieBio’s OncoPrecision closes $3.3M seed round to personalize cancer treatment with “micro avatars”

OncoPrecision provides patient-specific insights that may help oncologists determine the best course of treatment and the biopharmaceutical industry to develop transformational therapeutics. Source: OncoPrecision

IndieBio’s OncoPrecision (IndieBio SF11 2021) recently announced the closing of a $3.3 million seed funding round, “OncoPrecision Raises $3.3M Seed Funding to Improve Cancer Patient Outcomes and Drug Development Efforts with “Patient Micro Avatars”. This most recent funding round bring OncoPrecision’s total funding to date to $4.2M.

The seed round included investors SOSV (IndieBio), GRIDX, New York Ventures, Creative Ventures, and Fundación Para el Progreso de la Medicine, among others.

OncoPrecision creates functional assays for individual cancer patients to help oncologists determine a personalized and effective medication plan. With this most recent funding round, OncoPrecision plans to develop Patient Micro Avatar technology that recreates a patients’ disease ex-vivo to determine the avatar’s response to both standard-of-care and exploratory treatments—all within a week’s time.

“We’re at a pivotal moment in cancer care when shifting away from the historic one-size-fit-all approach towards bespoke treatments that are tailored to each patient is a possibility,” explained OncoPrecisions CEO and co-founder Tarek Zaki. “We founded OncoPrecision to make that a reality.”

IndieBio’s therapeutics company Intrinsic Medicine to list on NASDAQ next year

Intrinsic Medicine is developing a new drug based on a sugar found in human milk to treat Gut-Brain Axis (GBA) and inflammatory diseases. Source: Intrinsic Medicine

In a post entitled, “Intrinsic Medicine and Phoenix Biotech Acquisition Corp. Announce Merger Agreement to Create Public Company Leveraging Human Milk Biology to Treat Gut-Brain Axis Disorders”, IndieBio’s Intrinsic Medicine (SF09 2019), a therapeutics company using the science of human milk to treat inflammatory disorders, announced that it has entered into a definitive business combination agreement with Phoenix Biotech Acquisition Corp. The agreement includes plans to list Intrinsic Medicine’s common stock on the Nasdaq Capital Market under the ticker symbol “INRX ”in 2023.

Intrinsic Medicine is leveraging human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), an abundant solid component of human milk, to shift the composition of the gut microbiome, boost the microbiome’s production of helpful metabolites, and modulate the immune system. In a therapeutic context, HMO-based drugs have a favorable toxicity and tolerability profile, making them a promising candidate for patients who may otherwise be affected by the side effects and toxicities of other drugs.

According to the press release, Intrinsic Medicine’s merger with Phoenix Biotech Acquisition Corp. enables Intrinsic to advance its lead compound OM002, initiate a Phase 2b clinical study, initiate chronic toxicology studies, and advance the compound OM001 into the clinic.

“This milestone marks an important moment for Intrinsic,” said Intrinsic CEO Alexander Martinez. “With this commitment from PBAX, we will challenge the status quo to deliver a differentiated class of microbiome and immune-modulating medicines with the potential to provide true relief to individuals suffering from GBA disorders.”

IndieBio’s TômTex hits the runway with “leather” made from food waste

TômTex Co. creates plastic-free, 100% naturally biodegradable alternatives to synthetic and animal leathers made from seashell or mushrooms waste. Source: TômTex Co.

IndieBio’s biomaterial company TômTex Co. (NY03 2021) recently appeared on the runway in Peter Do’s first-ever menswear collection, according to Hypebeast’s article “Here’s a Closer Look at Peter Do’s “Green Chemistry” Used in His SS23 Show”.

Do partnered with TômTex to create leather-like materials from shrimp and mushroom food waste, demonstrating a sustainable step forward in clothing production.

Speaking on TômTex’s collaboration with Peter Do, TômTex founder and CEO Uyen Tran told Hypebeast: “We could not have asked for a better partner than Peter Do to introduce our first garments made from seashell waste and mushrooms to the global community. I worked for Peter in the early years of his brand. The philosophy he adopted for fashion and the way he prioritized community and people has profoundly impacted my view of the material world.”

Bloomberg points to Singapore-based Vertical Oceans for eco-friendly shrimp farming

Vertical Oceans
Vertical Oceans
Bloomberg called Vertical Oceans’ aquaculture approach “a mashup of a data center and your local parking garage.” Source: Vertical Oceans

IndieBio’s Singapore-based aquaculture company Vertical Oceans (IndieBio SF11 2021) recently attracted attention in Bloomberg’s article, “Shrimp Farming Is Coming to a City Near You”. Bloomberg described how venture capitalists poured $39B into the food tech companies in 2021, according to Pitchbook Data Inc. Vertical Oceans in particular raised a $4M seed round led by SOSV and Khosla Ventures last year. 

Vertical Oceans has developed algorithms to manage shrimp production in autonomous tanks that will be located near onshore demand centers like Tokyo or Las Vegas. With its balanced ecosystem of shrimp, fish, and algae, Vertical Oceans bring “farm to fork” seafood to consumers within eight hours—cutting down on the devastating ecological effects of traditional shrimp farming. 

“We’re demonstrating what the future of efficient protein production could look like,” explained Vertical Oceans’ co-founder and CEO John Diener.

IndieBio’s The EVERY Company and Prime Roots spotlighted as leaders in alt-protein precision fermentation

Prime Roots' alt-meat
Prime Roots' alt-meat
Alt-protein companies that rely on fermentation like The EVERY Company and Prime Roots may reach faster consumer adoption than their plant-based counterparts, the Financial Times suggested in a new video. Screenshot: The Financial Times

The Financial Times recently released a video titled “Fermenting: the future of animal-free meat?” in which Financial Times’ San Francisco correspondent Dave Lee interviewed IndieBio founders Arturo Elizondo from The EVERY Company (SF01 2015) and Kimberlie Le from Prime Roots (SF06 2018) to learn how precision fermentation is a significant contender in the alternative egg and animal meat markets. 

The Financial Times first highlighted The EVERY Company’s unique process of combining genetic engineering with the age-old process of fermentation.

“We produce real animal protein without using the animal,” Elizondo commented. “It is identical to what the animal makes.”

The video also showed how alt-protein companies can scale up production by piggybacking off bigger companies with existing fermentation facilities. For example, The EVERY Company partners with brewing giant ABInBev to use its facilities to ferment protein. 

“There are companies around the world who have fermentation facilities that we can immediately plug and play into. That allows us to have maximum optionality and scale up very, very quickly,” Elizondo said.

Lee also interviewed Prime Roots CEO and co-founder Kimberlie Le about how the alt-meat startup, which recently raised $18.5M, uses fungus to produce alternative bacon and deli meats.

“Within conventional deli meats, there’s a ton of baggage. You have nitrates, there’s a lot of hormones, antibiotics, salt, and the list goes on and on,” Le said. “Our ingredient list is really short and clean and that’s something we take a lot of pride in.”

Prime Roots ferments koji, a fungus with a fibrous texture that mimics the texture of meat, to mix, season, press, and bake into meat-like forms and flavors. 

Lee also spoke to journalist and author of “Technically Food” Larissa Zimberoff on the future of alternative proteins. “Fermentation is one of the tog dogs right now,” she explained. “People want to call it ‘clean’ because it has a short ingredient list and you can wrap your head around it—unlike the plant-based alternatives, which have 12 to 15 ingredients.” 

IndieBio’s Catalog teams up with Seagate for DNA-based data storage platform

Catalog is developing a DNA-based data storage platform.
Catalog is developing a DNA-based data storage platform.
Catalog’s DNA-based data storage platform may benefit financial fraud detection, image processing for discovering defects, and seismic processing. Source: Catalog

In the article “Synthetic DNA startup Catalog partners with Seagate for its DNA-based data storage platform”, TechCrunch reported that IndieBio’s Catalog (SF04 2016) is partnering with Seagate Technology to build its automated DNA-based platform for massive digital data storage and computation. In Sept. 2021, TechCrunch previously reported that Boston-based Catalog had closed a $35M series B led by Horizon Ventures and Hanwha Impact, bringing its total funding to date to $60M.

This platform will rely on Seagate’s unique electronic chips, which include tiny reservoirs that process small amounts of liquid synthetic DNA. TechCrunch noted that the DNA-based computation platform will cost less, use less energy, and be 1,000 times smaller than computation systems today. 

“Collaborating with an industry leader like Seagate will help speed our ability to advance DNA storage,” Catalog founder and CEO Hyunjun Park told TechCrunch. “In addition to DNA storage, Catalog has already discovered the means to incorporate DNA into algorithms and applications with potential widespread cases including artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and secure computing. This work with Seagate is essential to eventually lowering costs and reducing the complexity of storage systems.”

IndieBio’s New Culture teams up with ADM to bring animal-free mozzarella to Midwest pizzerias

New Culture merges traditional cheese-making methods with food science to create cheese that’s sustainable on the planet and its animals and people. Source: New Culture

In Bloomberg’s recent article “Vegan Mozzarella Set to Debut in Midwest Pizzerias in Latest ADM Bet”, Bloomberg reported that IndieBio’s New Culture (IndieBio SF08 2019) has partnered with agricultural trader and processor Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM) to bring animal-free mozzarella to the U.S. food market. 

New Culture creates animal-free casein protein using a fermentation process to replicate the consistency and melting properties of cheese. With access to ADM’s robust supply chain, manufacturing assets, and affordable ingredients, New Culture will bring its “cow cheese without the cow” to Midwest pizzerias beginning in 2023, Bloomberg said.

“We believe this technology is a game changer and will help lead the transition of the global dairy diet,” New Culture co-founder and CEO Matt Gibson told Bloomberg. “But the partnership with ADM will give us a new scale and competitiveness, and at the end of the day, the decision comes to price, taste, and convenience.”