EpiBiome Secures $6 Million Series A Financing to Develop Alternatives to Small-Molecule Antibiotics for Agriculture

Feb 04, 2016, 08:00 ET from EpiBiome

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif., Feb. 4, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- EpiBiome, a precision microbiome engineering company, today announced it has completed a $6 million Series A financing. Participating in the round were several leading next-generation sequencing investors including Viking Global Investors via the Illumina Accelerator Boost Capital, Matrix Capital Management, Alexandria Venture Investments, SV Tech Ventures and China Rock Capital Management. Proceeds from the financing will be used to develop alternatives to small-molecule antibiotics for use in agriculture, to invest in its microbiome engineering platform, and to file for additional patents on its technology.

"The completion of this financing builds on an exceptional year for EpiBiome, which included graduation from the inaugural class of Illumina Accelerator; winning the Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS QuickFire Challenge; acceptance into the Springboard Enterprises Accelerator; participation in a White House briefing in Washington, D.C.; securing a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grand Challenges Explorations Grant to apply its platform to improve infant gut health in developing countries; invitation to pitch at the upcoming SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas; and the advancement of its lead candidate into animal studies," said EpiBiome CEO Dr. Nick Conley.

"EpiBiome exhibits the rare combination of oracle-like foresight, strategic application of sequencing technology, and unrelenting drive," said Dr. Mostafa Ronaghi, SVP and CTO of Illumina. "We believe that EpiBiome will do for agriculture what Illumina continues to do for genomics."  

"The incredible momentum EpiBiome has captured is a testament to the quality of its team and the power of its aspirational vision," said Dr. Amanda Cashin, Head of the Illumina Accelerator. "I hope that its success serves as an example that will inspire and be replicated by our other Accelerator companies."

EpiBiome's bacteriophage-based therapy represents a natural and effective alternative to stem the overuse of antibiotics in agriculture, which may be contributing to the alarming rise in antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in humans. According to Professor W. E. Moerner, Stanford professor and 2014 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, "EpiBiome combines deep talent and clever, creative ideas to produce novel approaches for managing microbial diseases without antibiotics."

"The urgency of this problem requires teamwork from both the government and private sector," said PR Yu, Managing Partner at SV Tech Ventures. "As investors, we're doing our part, and entrepreneurs are doing theirs. The courageous EpiBiome team is not just developing a new way to treat bacterial infections; they are also plowing a new path to mitigate the looming danger caused by overuse of antibiotics."

The government has also taken an active role, with the White House recently releasing its five-year "National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria," which calls for dramatically curbing the unnecessary use of antibiotics in agriculture. Consistent with this directive, the FDA has implemented voluntary guidelines to phase out antibiotics use for growth promotion in production animals. At the state level, California Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 27 late last year, making California the first state to require a veterinarian's prescription for therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock and initiating a data collection policy on agricultural antibiotics use.

"It is so exciting to observe the success of the EpiBiome team in their efforts to supply needed solutions to animal health, public health, ecosystem health and food safety," said Professor Jim Cullor, a large-animal veterinarian, UC Davis professor, and Director of the UC Davis Dairy Food Safety Laboratory.

About EpiBiome
EpiBiome is a venture-backed precision microbiome engineering company with the mission of developing effective and sustainable FDA-approved therapies to combat infectious disease in humans and in agriculture without the use of small-molecule antibiotics. Its first product will address bovine mastitis, an inflammation of the udder tissue in dairy cows, usually caused by bacterial infection. Bovine mastitis results in $35 billion and $2 billion in losses to the global and US dairy industries, respectively, due to reduced milk production and milk quality.

The company's management team consists of Nick Conley, PhD (Cofounder & Chief Executive Officer), Aaron Tynes Hammack, PhD (Cofounder & Chief Operating Officer), Christina Tsai, PhD (Cofounder & Chief Science Officer), Lucia Mokres, DVM (Chief Medical Officer), and Bruno Marchon, PhD (Chief Technical Officer). EpiBiome is located at JLABS @ South San Francisco. For more information, visit http://www.epibiome.com.

About Illumina Accelerator
Illumina Accelerator is the world's first business accelerator focused solely on creating an innovation ecosystem for the genomics industry. It provides select startups with seed investment, business guidance, access to Illumina's sequencing systems and reagents, and fully operational lab space in the San Francisco Bay Area during each six-month funding cycle. For more information, visit http://www.illumina.com/accelerator.

About Springboard Enterprises
Since 2000, Springboard Enterprises has served as a resource hub of influencers, investors and innovators engaged in helping women build high-growth technology-oriented businesses. Springboard sources, coaches, showcases and supports women-led growth companies seeking investment of financial and human capital for product development and expansion. For more information, see http://sb.co.

About Viking Global Investors
Viking Global Investors LP is a global investment firm founded in 1999, with offices in Greenwich, New York, Hong Kong, and London. The firm manages more than $30 billion in capital and uses fundamental analysis to select investments, primarily public and private equity securities, from a wide range of industries globally. Viking is registered as an investment adviser under the U.S. Investment Advisers Act of 1940. For more information, visit http://www.vikingglobal.com.

About Matrix Capital Management
Matrix Capital Management is an investment fund based in Waltham, MA with a 17-year track record investing primarily in public companies. The fund holds a concentrated portfolio of high-conviction, uniquely diligenced investment ideas, with a focus on growth companies in enterprise software, consumer internet, media, and next-generation sequencing, among other sectors. 

About Alexandria Venture Investments
Alexandria Venture Investments, founded in 1996, is the strategic venture capital arm of Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. (NYSE: ARE). The Alexandria Venture Investments team actively invests at the cutting edge of breakthrough discoveries in biotherapeutics, diagnostics, research tools, digital health platforms, agriculture and other novel technologies by providing equity capital directly to companies, and by taking limited partnership positions in blue-chip venture capital funds.

About SV Tech Ventures
SV Tech Ventures is a Silicon Valley-based VC fund investing in early-stage companies from diversified technology sectors, including biotech, medical equipment, software, hardware, internet, and cleantech, etc.  For more information, visit http://www.svtechventures.com.

About China Rock Capital Management
CRCM is a VC firm that typically invests in early-stage companies, both in the Silicon Valley and Greater China areas. The firm's focus is on healthcare; Enterprise; consumer; financial technology; and technology, media, and telecommunications, with investments typically ranging between $50k and $5 million. Past portfolio companies include Allyes, which was acquired by Focus Media Holding Ltd. in 2007, and Youku, E-House, and Yingli, which are now publicly traded companies on the New York Stock Exchange. CRCM adds value to entrepreneurs by connecting them with its strong networks in China, Japan, and Silicon Valley. The firm has 20+ years of experience in public and private investing, 20+ years of experience in building startups, and an extensive support ecosystem that includes an incubator in Shanghai and a consulting firm in Beijing. For more information, please visit http://www.crcmvc.com and https://angel.co/chinarock-capital-management-crcm.

About BlackRock Partnership
BlackRock Partnership is an investment firm, based in Sacramento, CA, focused on investing in unique early-stage technology companies, including biotechnology. The firm also engages in real estate acquisitions with value-added opportunities, including construction development.

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