StemoniX rakes in $14.4M for micro-organ drug testing chips built from stem cells

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Brightstone Venture Capital led the round, with support from Crescent Ridge Partners, SEED San Diego, Alumni Ventures Group, Keshif Ventures and the Mayo Clinic. (Pixabay)

Microtissue developer StemoniX has secured $14.4 million in funding to commercialize its organ-on-a-chip platforms for drug development.

Using induced pluripotent stem cells, StemoniX has built functioning human “micro organs”—including active 2D and 3D neural circuits, as well as spontaneously beating heart cells—constructed on plates designed for high-throughput screening of drug efficacy and toxicity.

Instead of relying on animal models and limited human testing to predict drug interactions, StemoniX hopes its platforms will deliver cost and time savings to the biopharma industry by enhancing the safety of human clinical trials.

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Brightstone Venture Capital led the series B funding round, joined by returning investors Crescent Ridge Partners and SEED San Diego. StemoniX also garnered support from new backers, including Alumni Ventures Group, Keshif Ventures and the Mayo Clinic.

“We’ve seen incredible growth in the StemoniX customer base,” said Patrick O’Shaughnessy, managing partner at Brightstone. “The company has achieved global traction with adoption of their products, such as microBrain 3D Assay Ready, by key pharmaceutical customers. We’re excited to expand our partnership with StemoniX and continue our investment in the future of human stem cell-based research and development.”

In addition, the company’s discovery-as-a-service business uses its microBrain and microHeart platforms to develop custom disease models, and test compounds with its in-house screening capabilities. The company hopes its products will find homes across the drug discovery process: from phenotypic screening through target identification and compound validation, to safety and toxicity testing.

StemoniX plans to use the proceeds to expand its commercial operations at sites in Minnesota and California, as well as support the development of new products and services.

RELATED: Mini esophagus grown from stem cells could yield treatments for GI diseases

Other organ-chip companies have also noted the limits of animal testing. Emulate, for example, gathered $36 million in series C financing last year, with plans to expand its research to a wider range of disease models. Its platforms cover the physiology of the liver, intestines, lungs and brain, as well as thrombotic processes and the modulation of the immune system.

The company also has partnerships with Roche, Takeda, Merck and Johnson & Johnson, as well as a R&D pact with the FDA and a clinical collaboration with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

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