Limula raises $6.8m to develop cell and gene therapy manufacturing platform

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags cell and gene therapy Cell therapy Gene therapy Manufacturing CAR-T

Life science startup Limula has raised $6.8 million to take its solution for automating cell therapy manufacturing to the next stage of development.

The company will use its new seed capital to ‘significantly advance’ its modular solution for on-demand and at-scale manufacturing of cell therapies in a single device. 

The technology combines a bioreactor and a centrifuge into one single vessel, a new approach gentler to patient cells during process steps, Limula claims. 

Luc Henry, co-founder and CEO of Limula, said: "Our team is driven by the ambitious goal of developing tools that are based on a fundamentally novel way of manipulating cells outside of the body. Our technology supports manufacturing workflows that are impossible to automate with existing tools. 

“We believe automation is the only route to scalability and digital traceability. These two aspects are keys unlocking the full potential of cell and gene Therapy, making them accessible to the many, not just the few. 

Founded in 2020 by Dr. Yann Pierson, Dr. Luc Henry, and Dr. Thomas Eaton, the company aims to revolutionize ex vivo​ cell manipulation with novel technology. 

The founders identified outdated manufacturing methods as a barrier to the widespread adoption of cell and gene therapy products, such as CAR T-cells. 

Despite breakthroughs in genetic engineering and medicine, current methods still involve too many manual steps, requiring costly skilled labor and sterile infrastructure. 

Consequently, each dose can cost over $500,000, making these treatments inaccessible to most eligible patients.

Limula’s technology aims to combat this crucial issue. According to the company, by combining the functionalities of a bioreactor and a centrifuge into one single closed vessel, its solution can handle a wide range of volumes and cell numbers, removing transfer steps and limiting stress, losses, and contamination. 

It can be used by cell therapy providers in their transition from pre-clinical evaluation to clinical trials, and later commercial scale manufacturing of clinical-grade cell products.

After completing an initial proof of concept, the Swiss-based firm launched a program to provide selected industry and academic partners access to the innovative platform ahead of its commercial launch.

With the aim to broaden the scope of applications, Limula has signed partnerships with several research centres including San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy in Milan, Italy - a centre of excellence for research and clinical translation of cell and gene therapy. 

Prof Bernhard Gentner at San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy added: “We believe the solution Limula is advancing can support our current process development activities and later enable the manufacturing of these cell products at scale. We also see its potential in improving the status quo in Cell & Gene Therapy manufacturing in general, and in the field of haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in particular.”

The seed round was led by LifeX Ventures, with participation from Verve Ventures, Zühlke Ventures, Oxford Seed Fund, Lichtsteiner Foundation and W.A. de Vigier Foundation, among others. 

Dr Inaki Berenguer, managing partner at LifeX Ventures commented: "We're thrilled to stand with the Limula team as they reinvent cell and gene therapy manufacturing. It's evident that production tools have lagged behind scientific and clinical advancements, particularly in terms of price and scalability. Limula's commitment to addressing these bottlenecks is crucial to enhancing accessibility for patients.”

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