CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Aug. 30, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- RootPath, a Cambridge-based biotechnology company developing a powerful personalized T cell therapy platform that bridges precision medicine and cancer immunotherapy, today announced a $7 million seed funding round led by Sequoia China with participation from Volcanics Venture, BV (Baidu Ventures) and Nest.Bio Ventures. The company, which was launched in 2017 by life sciences venture capital and incubation firm Nest.Bio, will use its proceeds to advance its immuno-oncology programs and obtain key data on accuracy, efficacy and safety in animal models.
Founded by scientists and bioengineers instrumental in the development of synthetic biology, gene editing and single-cell sequencing technologies, RootPath continues to build on the collective expertise and insights from its founders, Drs. Xi Chen, Le Cong, Yinqing Li and Ely Porter. Chen and Porter serve as CEO and lead scientist, respectively, while Cong and Li hold faculty positions at Stanford University and Tsinghua University, respectively.
"Even the best immunotherapies today are challenged by the complexities of the immune system, the scope and speed at which cells need to be analyzed and manipulated, and the targeted specificity that can be achieved in different disease settings," said Chen. "At RootPath we are developing a novel proprietary approach to immunotherapy that will overcome these limitations, and we are proud to have the support of Sequoia China and our other investors as we move towards the clinic."
While the immune system is the most powerful disease-fighting tool in the human body, almost all immune-oriented therapeutic approaches suffer from an inability to distinguish between disease-causing immune cells, bystander immune cells, and disease-fighting immune cells. This lack of understanding at the single-cell level leads to therapies that, while successful in a minority of patients, are often ineffective and sometimes even dangerous due to toxic side effects.
In order to more reliably and fully harness the immune system's therapeutic capabilities, researchers must understand not just the sequences of individual immune cell receptors, but also their specific functions, as well as the overall functional states of the various types of immune cells. Conducting this analysis across the millions of cells in the immune system is an immense undertaking, and must be done quickly to enable timely treatment. RootPath's advances in single-cell analysis and manipulation have equipped the company to perform this task at a high-throughput level while simultaneously maintaining single-cell resolution.
"We are just at the start of the immunotherapy era," said Cyber Cao, Managing Director of Sequoia China. "In order to progress to the next stage, we need to improve our ability to dissect and engineer the immune system at a single-cell level. RootPath's approach is geared to solving that problem, and we are proud to be leading this investment."
"Understanding the immune system requires scientific and technological expertise across multiple disciplines, and we are proud of the team RootPath has assembled to tackle this challenge," said Suyang Zhang of Volcanics Venture.
Added Hingge Hsu of Nest.Bio Ventures: "We are very encouraged by the technology advances that have been accomplished thus far at RootPath. The company's novel approach in precision immunotherapy will undoubtedly pave the way for more targeted and more powerful therapies in various human cancers."
About RootPath RootPath is a Cambridge-based biotechnology company developing a powerful personalized T cell therapy platform that bridges precision medicine and cancer immunotherapy. Led by pioneers in synthetic biology, gene editing and single-cell sequencing technologies, their team is developing next generation technologies to precisely monitor, modulate and steer the immune system for a revolution in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. RootPath was launched by Nest.Bio Ventures in 2017 and was incubated in Nest.Bio Labs in both Cambridge, Massachusetts and Hangzhou, China. For more information, please visit www.rootpath.com.