eGenesis, a developer of human-compatible organs created through its own multiplexed gene editing platform, has raised $100 million in Series B financing.
eGenesis—whose co-founders include George Church, PhD, of Harvard Medical School—said that it would use proceeds from the financing to accelerate development of its lead kidney xenotransplant program into clinical phases, as well as support advancement of islet cell, liver, heart, and lung xenotransplant programs.
“With this new round of financing from industry leaders, eGenesis is well positioned to continue to advance the development of human-compatible organs to address the dire shortage in the United States and around the world,” eGenesis president and CEO Paul Sekhri said in a statement.
eGenesis said it aims to advance the field of transplantation by developing safe and reliable xenotransplant organs, tissues, and cells to patients in need. eGenesis reasons that the transplantation of organs, tissues, and cells between different species holds potential to address the gap between human need for organ transplants and the shortage of available organs—with pigs currently considered to be the best potential donors of biologic material for humans.
Porcine xenotransplantation research was halted in the 1990s because of the risk of transmitting porcine endogenous retrovirus (PERV) to patients during organ transplants. Church and researcher Luhan Yang, PhD, have sought to resurrect the field by co-founding eGenesis, which is working to make porcine tissue PERV-free and as human-like as possible to enable life-saving medical interventions.
“We’re in the process of creating transgenic organs, engineering out PERV, and engineering in the new elements to make the organs as close to those of humans as possible,” Sekhri told GEN earlier this year, adding that eGenesis anticipates launching clinical trials in 2022. “We’re creating three models of pigs. The first is PERV-free.”
The second incorporates genetic modifications to enhance compatibility with the human immune system. The third blends both models.
Modifying single cells
“We first modify single cells, isolate them, and determine whether they carry the modifications so we can choose the perfect cells before cloning an animal,” Yang told GEN. “Our focus on single cell modifications is what differentiates us.”
eGenesis cites statistics showing 113,717 people in need of an organ transplant and only 92 transplants occurring daily in the United States. Of those in need, 75,865 are on the active waiting list, with a new name added every 10 minutes. Twenty people die every day due to lack of available organs for transplant.
The financing was led by Fresenius Medical Care Ventures (FMCV), with participation from new investors including Wellington Partners and Leaps by Bayer, the pharma giant’s initiative aimed at supporting paradigm-shifting advances in the life sciences, which it defines as “breakthroughs that could fundamentally change the world for the better.”
In a separate statement, Bayer disclosed that it invested $50 million in the Series B financing.
“We believe eGenesis is poised to revolutionize the entire organ transplantation market, which could save lives in a way that was previously not thought possible just a few years ago,” stated Jürgen Eckhardt, head of Leaps by Bayer.
Eckhardt is one of three people named by eGenesis to its Board of Directors in connection with the financing. The other two are Lucio Iannone, PhD, director of venture investments at Leaps by Bayer, and Al Wiegman, head of ventures at FMCV.
Also participating in the financing were existing investors that included, but were not limited to, ARCH Venture Partners, Biomatics Capital, Alta Partners, and Khosla Ventures.
The new financing brings eGenesis’ total capital raised to approximately $140 million, since the company garnered $38 million in Series A financing in 2017.
“The eGenesis approach represents a truly transformational option for patients with kidney disease,” added Olaf Schermeier, PhD, CEO for global research and development of Fresenius Medical Care. We look forward to providing our industry-leading experience in treating patients with kidney disease to support the company as they aim to bring their solution into the clinical setting.”