Integra Therapeutics, a biotechnology company that is creating next-generation gene writing tools to boost the efficiency and safety of advanced therapies, has completed its first round of funding for €4.5 million with Advent France Biotechnology (France), Invivo Capital (Spain) and Takeda Ventures (USA).
Integra Tx was founded in late 2020 as a spin-off of Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) based on technology developed in the Translational Synthetic Biology Lab led by Dr Marc Güell (EMBO Young Investigator, National Research Award for Young Talent and co-founder of two biotech firms).
The great potential of this novel gene writing technology lies in the fact that it resolves some of the main technical limitations of gene therapy: it can be used to paste DNA sequences of any size gene with high precision. Advanced therapies are one of the pillars of the medicine of the future and are aimed at both preventing and treating genetic and oncological diseases that, for now, are incurable.
The funds raised in this round will allow Integra Tx to complete the prototype of the new gene writing technology platform, carry out preclinical validation using in vivo and ex vivo models, and manage its patent portfolio in 2022 and 2023. After that, the company plans to open a Series A round to seek regulatory approval and carry out clinical trials with patients.
“We’re very proud to be transferring our scientific knowledge and technological skills in gene editing from the lab to society. We thank all our investors for their commitment to Integra Tx and to making advanced therapies safer and more effective, and getting them to patients that urgently need them,” says Dr Avencia Sánchez-Mejías, co-founder and CEO of Integra Tx. Sánchez-Mejías joined the UPF Translational Synthetic Biology Lab in 2018 after doing research at the Institute of Biomedicine of Seville, the National University of Singapore and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Dr Marc Güell, co-founder and CSO of Integra Tx, explains, “the Integra Tx technology platform is very promising because it is an evolution of the CRISPR-Cas techniques. We’ve found a way to merge them with transposase and integrase proteins that have a great capacity for gene transfer and to not depend on viral vectors for transporting the components into the cell, which is a step forward in making these therapies safer.” Plus, it has applications both in vivo (directly in patients) and ex vivo (outside of patients).
Matthieu Coutet, Managing Partner at Advent France Biotechnology, adds: “We decided to invest in Integra Tx because we believe in its seasoned scientific and management team. Its founders have shown a strong passion and ambition to move Integra Tx’s technology forward, combined with a proven expertise in gene editing and advanced therapies.”
Dr Luis Pareras, Managing Partner at Invivo Capital, says: “We’re thrilled with the possibilities Integra Tx’s plataform can develop to solve the problem of cargo size in gene therapy. We’re also very pleased with the international syndicate supporting this seed round, in yet another example of technology transfer opportunity and the competitiveness of the biotech ecosystem in Spain.”
Miles Gerson, Takeda Ventures Partner and Senior Investment Director, says: “Takeda Ventures is very excited to support Integra Tx and their next generation gene writing platform with many potential applications to benefit patients.”