Wyss spins out pathogen-capturing tech into upstart biotech

Harvard's Wyss Institute is spinning out another biotech. The cutting-edge research group has launched Opsonix with $8 million from Baxter Ventures and Hansjörg Wyss, the Swiss billionaire who founded the institute.

The biotech upstart will pursue clinical studies of a new therapy that can extract pathogens and toxins from the blood. The big idea behind Opsonix was to engineer proteins that could mimic human blood opsonins, the immune system's janitors that are dispatched to spotlight threats to the system.

Designed to work in tandem with antibiotics, their lead molecule is described as "a recombinant human protein derived from mannose binding lectin (MBL) fused to the Fc region of human immunoglobulin (FcMBL)." When Opsonix's therapy is attached to the membrane of a dialyzer-type device, it can extract bacteria, fungi, parasites, viruses, and toxins that spur sepsis. 

Opsonix's scientific founders are Dr. Donald Ingber and Michael Super. Ingber also helped found Emulate, an organ-on-a-chip pioneer--and another Wyss spinout--that has set out to one day replace animals in preclinical research.

"Opsonix's pathogen-extracting therapy provides a novel therapeutic solution leveraging the broad binding activities of a natural human protein that may rapidly remove sepsis-causing pathogens--and the toxins they release--from a patient's blood," said Eric Devroe, the founder and CEO at Opsonix. "With our FcMBL-based pathogen-extracting therapy, treatment of blood-borne infectious disease can be initiated earlier in the course of infection, when it is most needed, without having to wait to identify the disease-causing pathogen. With the strong support of our investors and a compelling body of evidence developed by our scientific founders, Opsonix will move forward expeditiously with preclinical studies to advance our pathogen-extracting therapy."

- here's the release

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