— Creating new category of cellular medicines —
Be Biopharma (“Be Bio”), a leader in developing B cells as medicines, founded by Longwood Fund, David Rawlings, MD, and Richard James, PhD, today announced a $52 million Series A financing led by Atlas Venture and RA Capital Management and joined by Alta Partners, Longwood Fund and Takeda Ventures, Inc. The company plans to use this funding to precisely engineer B cells to treat a range of diseases, building on the pioneering work of Drs. Rawlings and James at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. B cells are prolific protein producers that can be collected from peripheral blood, have a programmable lifetime that could last decades, can target specific tissues, and have broad, customizable functionality.
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David Steinberg, CEO, co-founder & director, Be Bio; general partner, Longwood Fund (Photo: Business Wire)
“Be Bio is capitalizing on the unique attributes of B cells to create a new category of medicine that is distinct from traditional cell or gene therapy,” said David Steinberg, Chief Executive Officer, co-founder and Director, Be Biopharma and General Partner, Longwood Fund. “B cells can be engineered to express a wide variety of proteins, have the potential to generate durable responses, and can be dose-titrated and administered multiple times without the need for toxic preconditioning. Moreover, the varied functions of B cells suggest that B cell medicines can address a range of conditions including autoimmune diseases, cancer, and monogenic disorders, as well as enhance the immune response to infectious pathogens. We believe Be Bio is at the forefront of a new approach to fighting disease.”
“B cells play a key role in combatting diseases by catalyzing humoral immunity – the arm of the immune system that manufactures large quantities of proteins to neutralize disease-causing pathogens and manipulate immune cell behavior,” said Be Biopharma co-founder David Rawlings, MD, Director, Center for Immunity and Immunotherapies, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. “Today, this powerful part of the immune system is only passively and/or indirectly addressed therapeutically. Our ambition is to advance the field by building a new class of engineered B cell medicines that will provide direct control over the power of humoral immunity and help transform the prognosis for patients who currently have limited treatment options.”
In addition to Rawlings, James and Steinberg, Be Bio’s co-founders are Aleks Radovic-Moreno, PhD, President and Director, and Lea Hachigian, PhD, with Longwood Fund. The Board of Directors also includes Josh Resnick, MD, MBA, Managing Director, RA Capital Management; Jason Rhodes, Partner, Atlas Venture; and Dan Janney, MBA, Managing Partner, Alta Partners.
Be Biopharma’s Scientific Advisory Board consists of David Rawlings MD; Richard James, PhD, Principal Investigator, Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, as well as Frances Eun-Hyung Lee, MD, an Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology physician and researcher in Atlanta, GA; Shiv Pillai, MD, PhD, Professor, Harvard Medical School, Investigator