Lumicks snags $93M for its molecular tweezers and cell therapy hardware

To help give researchers a view into the smallest interactions between individual cells in real time, Lumicks has raised $93 million to expand the use of its entry-level hardware, including tools for identifying potent immune cells and laser-powered optical tweezers for manipulating single molecules.

The Amsterdam-based company’s series D round was led by Farallon Capital Management and Lauxera Capital Partners, plus investments from Softbank’s Vision 2 fund as well as funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Parian Global Management, Pura Vida Investments, Irving Investors and Gilde Healthcare.

Lumick said it will use the majority of the proceeds to push its new immune cell analyzer, released last year, which uses acoustics to determine individual T cells’ binding strengths against a particular target. By revealing the most potent immunotherapeutic cells, the company’s Z-Movi cell avidity platform can help fine-tune CAR-T therapies for particular cancers.

Its optical tweezers, meanwhile, are based on the technology awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics. They use highly focused beams of light to trap a variety of targets, including individual proteins or pieces of DNA. Now available in a tabletop device, the system can measure the forces at work as other molecules push, pull or bind with its quarry. 

RELATED: AstraZeneca launches Cambridge partnership with Lumicks to visualize individual DNA, drug molecules

Lumicks previously partnered with AstraZeneca and Cambridge University to help establish a U.K. center of excellence for the Big Pharma, with the goal of visually observing the interactions between DNA and individual proteins to uncover the mechanisms behind treatments and diseases.

More recently, the company signed on to separate collaborations with Lava Therapeutics and Leucid Bio, both centered on its z-Movi analyzer. Lava aims to evaluate the efficacy of tumor-specific γδ T-cell engagers and bring its first two off-the-shelf bispecific antibodies into clinical testing this year. Leucid plans to test its CAR-T therapies for solid tumors and blood cancers and identify the so-called “Goldilocks” cells that have just the right amount of binding strength for their targets.