Intrexon ($XON) spearheaded a $245 million fund in January that’s aimed at investing in startups using its technology. Now, it’s done deals with two of the portfolio companies backed by the fund: Genten Therapeutics, which is focused on gluten peptide expression, and CRS Bio, which works on antibodies to treat chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS).
Both startups are using Intrexon’s ActoBiotics Lactococcus lactis platform, which uses the food-grade microbe to express and secrete novel proteins and peptides such as cytokines, enzymes, hormones and monoclonal antibodies within the body.
Under the agreements, Intrexon received one-quarter of the equity in each startup. It will reimburse for all R&D costs, as well as pay undisclosed milestones and royalties.
"The expansion of our portfolio with innovative high impact programs at Genten Therapeutics and CRS Bio further illustrate the significant potential of Intrexon's ActoBiotics platform to provide new therapeutic modalities addressing the underlying causes of difficult-to-treat conditions such as celiac disease and chronic rhinosinusitis," said Intrexon President Geno Germano in a release. "The high unmet needs of these autoimmune and inflammatory disorders are ideal targets for our engineered bio-based solutions that can overcome the limitations of existing approaches."
Genten uses ActoBiotics expression of gluten peptides, alone or in combination with immunomodulatory cytokines, to reestablish immune tolerance in celiac disease patients. For its part, CRS Bio uses the tech to block inflammatory mediators in the nasal passages to treat CRS, with and without nasal polyps.
"Celiac disease presents a growing, under-diagnosed disorder in need of innovative therapeutic approaches. The utilization of ActoBiotics biotherapeutics as a therapy to reestablish immune tolerance to disease-causing gluten represents a promising strategy for treating the condition," noted Dr. Bana Jabri, director of research at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center in the release.
The investment fund, known as the Harvest Intrexon Enterprise Fund, was raised by JMP Group ($JMP) via Harvest Capital Strategies, which is based in San Francisco, CA. It invests specifically in startups that use tech from the synthetic biology company across industry sectors including healthcare, food, agriculture, energy, environment, chemicals and consumer products.