Preclinical inflammatory disease biotech Ilias Biologics has grabbed a $20.6 million funding round as it eyes a 2021 human test of its leading candidate ILB-202.
The biotech’s focus is on its early-stage exosome-based therapeutics pipeline. Long thought of as the cell’s garbage removal system, exosomes carry payloads like proteins or RNAs from one cell to another.
Ilias’s platform EXPLOR (exosome engineering for protein loading via optically reversible protein-protein interaction) looks to provide a protein-loading method that enables free-form loading of large therapeutic cargo proteins into the lumen of exosomes by genetically engineering the producing cell lines.
“While exosomes have been researched as therapeutic vehicles for intracellular drug delivery, the controllable loading of therapeutic cargo proteins as a free form in the exosomal lumen has remained a technical hurdle,” the biotech said in a statement.
“Ilias’s technology provides a unique solution to overcome this challenge and increase the efﬁciency of therapeutic protein delivery into the intracellular component of target cells.”
The biotech is planning to submit its IND for its first-in-human test by the second half of 2021, targeting “an undisclosed acute inflammatory disease.” The company is also “in active discussion with multiple pharmaceutical companies” for R&D collabs around its tech.
It follows a series of other biotechs into the world of exosomes, including, most recently, Codiak Biosciences with its Sarepta-backed platform engineering drug molecules into exosomes to get drugs where they need to go.
“The support from our new and existing investors is a reflection of their confidence in the immense potential of ILIAS's exosome-based platform technology and the expertise of scientists and management teams at ILIAS,” said Ilias President Chulhee Choi, M.D., Ph.D.
“We will continue to work toward fulfilling our mission of transforming scientific imaginations into reality to advance human health.”