On March 31, 2021 Outpace Bio, a biotechnology company building a platform to create next-generation smart cell therapies, reported the closing of a $30 million Series A financing round (Press release, Outpace Bio, MAR 31, 2021, View Source [SID1234637769]). The oversubscribed financing was led by ARTIS Ventures and Lyell Immunopharma, Inc., with additional participation from Abstract Ventures, Civilization Ventures, Mubadala Capital (the asset management arm of Mubadala Investment Company), Playground Global, Sahsen Ventures, and WRF Capital. Funding will be used to demonstrate proof of principle for Outpace’s platform. In addition to closing the financing round, Outpace has entered into a collaboration with Lyell Immunopharma for joint research and subsequent development and commercialization by Lyell of a potential immune cell therapy for the treatment of cancer.
Creating next-generation smart cell therapies
Certain diseases have remained incurable despite decades of effort because they are too complex for any single molecule to solve. Outpace is building a platform to improve the safety and efficacy of cell and gene-based therapies.
"Diseases like cancer and autoimmunity happen when cells default to the wrong decisions. A biological activity that is beneficial in one context can drive dysfunction or toxicity in another. Outpace is working to overcome this by reprogramming cells to make the right decisions in the right context," said Marc Lajoie, CEO and co-founder of Outpace. "We believe that cures will require the full power of cells to intervene in complex biology in ways that small molecule drugs and biologics cannot."
Just as custom-designed software and hardware have enabled modern smartphones to revolutionize how people interact with information, Outpace custom-designs biological software and hardware to revolutionize how cells interact with disease. Outpace’s built-for-purpose proteins unlock biological functions that off-the-shelf parts cannot. Initial proof points are focused on creating highly functional, ultra-specific T cell therapies that will be effective against solid tumors, while also laying the groundwork to solve similar problems across the cell and gene therapy field.
"Outpace creates a unique opportunity to drive efficacy in cell and gene therapies without compromising on safety. The way to do that is by engineering new biology that can’t be achieved by repurposing nature – custom-designed proteins provide a unique opportunity to address specific therapeutic needs," said Vasudev Bailey, PhD, senior partner at ARTIS Ventures. "We believe the Outpace team has the knowledge and passion to revolutionize this field in close collaboration with other pharma and biotech leaders."
Outpace and Lyell to supercharge anticancer T cell therapies
Under the collaboration agreement, Outpace and Lyell will use Outpace’s technologies in an effort to unlock the biology of a cytokine that the companies believe has the potential to dramatically improve efficacy in treating patients with cancer, but would require careful control to avoid systemic toxicity.
"Outpace’s technology holds promise to enable the efficacy of this cytokine without the toxicity," said Rick Klausner, founder and executive chairman of Lyell. "Outpace’s approach is unique in its ability to directly modulate this biology, and we look forward to working with them."
The collaboration enables Outpace to combine its mechanism-driven approach to reprogramming biological function with Lyell’s translation expertise and deep mechanistic understanding of biology. Outpace plans to forge additional partnerships with other industry leaders to bring cell and gene therapies to the clinic, leveraging its platform to accelerate the development of new cures.