First-in-class Bionaut™ treatment modality uses remote-controlled microscale robots to deliver biologics, nucleic acids, or small molecule therapies locally to targeted brain disease areas
$20M financing led by Khosla Ventures supports lead therapeutic program in glioma
Safety and efficacy results in animals pave way for human clinical trials
Bionaut Labs, a company focused on revolutionizing the treatment of central nervous system disorders (CNS) with its Bionaut™ precision medicine treatment modality, today announced its launch backed by $20 million financing led by Khosla Ventures. Other investors in the syndicate included Upfront Ventures, Revolution, BOLD Capital, and Compound. Proceeds from the financing support the advancement of the Company’s lead therapeutic program in glioma through preclinical development, as well as help advance its program in Huntington’s disease.
“We are thrilled to bring Bionaut Labs out of stealth mode as it typifies the type of new impactful technology companies we like to help build,” said Vinod Khosla, founder, Khosla Ventures. “Bionauts™ hold great promise as a new targeted treatment modality for severe brain disorders for which there are few, if any, effective treatment options. Moreover, the broad therapeutic potential of Bionauts™ extends to many diseases where conventional therapies are limited or lacking.”
A Bionaut™ is a novel treatment modality that uses remote-controlled microscale robots to deliver biologics, nucleic acids, or small molecule therapies locally to targeted CNS disease areas. Through precision localized brain targeting, Bionaut™ therapeutics could offer better efficacy and safety that cannot be achieved by other traditional treatment modalities.
“Bionauts™ can transform the way the biopharmaceutical industry develops treatments, allowing us to engineer the therapeutic index for improved efficacy and better safety,” said Michael Shpigelmacher, co-founder and CEO, Bionaut Labs. “The Bionaut™ approach allows us to be free of the constraints of conventional neurosurgery. They make it possible to get to the precise brain area we want to target, providing the freedom to explore new pathways and remove the device without leaving a footprint. We are extremely pleased to debut with the strong support of this world-class syndicate, to fulfill our mission of helping patients suffering from debilitating brain diseases who lack treatment options.”
Bionauts™ can be constructed in different versions with custom geometries and surface characteristics. Smaller than a millimeter, they contain moving parts controlled remotely by a magnetic controller, allowing them to safely reach the target and release a therapeutic payload from the cargo compartment. Engineering flexibility provides a broad foundation for designing Bionaut™ therapies for nearly any disease of interest.
“The brain is uniquely designed to protect itself from external factors. This makes medical intervention in CNS extremely challenging. The Bionaut™ technology opens the door to precise treatment for a wide variety of severe brain disorders,” said Santosh Kesari, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Translational Neurosciences, Director of Neuro-Oncology at St. John’s Cancer Institute, and a member of Bionaut Lab’s Advisory Board.
Brainstem glioma remains one of the most devastating tumors, predominantly affecting children and young adults. Conventional treatment for brainstem glioma offers modest gains in overall survival, but overwhelmingly fails to cure these young patients. Bionaut Labs has demonstrated safe and controlled navigation of its therapeutic Bionaut™ to and from the treatment locus in the brain, in a large animal in vivo model. Furthermore, the Company has successfully treated human glioma tumors established in mice, utilizing guided delivery of therapeutic cargos directly into these tumors to eliminate systemic toxicity. These results pave the way to the clinical trials of the Bionaut™ platform.
“Bionauts™ enable safe, minimally invasive access to deep brain structures to treat CNS disorders by facilitating precise delivery of therapeutic agents. This approach enhances efficacy and eliminates off-target toxicity, while also allowing the targeting of a wide range of localized diseases with almost any type of therapy. What’s even more exciting is that the anatomical targeting capabilities of the Bionaut™ platform make new therapeutic technologies such as antisense, siRNA, gene therapy, CRISPR-Cas9, and oncolytic viruses viable in challenging clinical settings,” added Errol DeSouza, Ph.D., co-founder, Neurocrine Biosciences, and Head of Bionaut Labs’ Advisory Board.
“Bionaut Labs takes drug development to the next level with its Bionaut™ precision treatment modality, enabling full control over the therapeutic index. It shortens the time to market for new drugs and potentially even revives discarded drugs,” said Aviad Maizels, cofounder and Executive Chairman, Bionaut Labs. “It is the perfect merge of engineering and biology.”
Bionaut Labs’ Board of Directors includes Aviad Maizels (Executive Chairman and co-founder, Bionaut Labs; former Founder and CEO, PrimeSense [acquired by Apple]), Samir Kaul (Managing Partner, Khosla Ventures), Kevin Zhang (Partner, Upfront Ventures), and Michael Shpigelmacher (co-founder and CEO, Bionaut Labs). Bionaut Labs has been working under the radar since its founding in 2016 by Messrs. Maizels and Shpigelmacher, together with Alex Shpunt, former Chief Technology Officer of PrimeSense.
About Bionaut Labs
Bionaut Labs is focused on revolutionizing the treatment of central nervous system disorders with its Bionaut™ precision medicine treatment modality that uses remote-controlled microscale robots to deliver biologics, nucleic acids, or small molecule therapies locally to targeted disease areas. With the Bionaut™ medical modality, Bionaut Labs can transform the way the biopharmaceutical industry develops treatments, allowing the Company to engineer the therapeutic index for better efficacy and safety. Led by a world-class team of medical, engineering, and drug development experts, Bionaut Labs’ headquarters is in Los Angeles, California, with additional R&D sites in Israel and at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. For more information, please visit www.bionautlabs.com.
About Khosla Ventures
Khosla Ventures provides venture assistance and strategic advice to entrepreneurs working on breakthrough technologies. The firm was founded in 2004 by Vinod Khosla, co-founder of Sun Microsystems. With over fourteen billion dollars under management, the firm focuses on a broad range of areas including consumer, enterprise, ai, fintech and financial services, semiconductors, health, agriculture/food, sustainable energy, and robotics. Khosla Ventures is headquartered in Menlo Park, Calif. For more information, please visit www.khoslaventures.com.
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