Glympse Bio, a startup that builds bioengineered, in vivo sensors for disease, has emerged from stealth with a $22 million series A round.
The company hopes to develop a customizable, injectable platform that outperforms the current, natural biomarkers found in the body. After being administered to a patient, nanoparticles interact with the different enzymes associated with the disease, releasing a chemical signal that is eventually collected from the urine for analysis.
Glympse’s lead indication is aimed at nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a chronic, asymptomatic condition that is hard to diagnose noninvasively. Also known as fatty liver disease, NASH is set to become the leading cause of liver transplantation in the U.S.
In its curtain-raising statement (PDF), the company said it has signed on for NASH collaborations with multiple pharmaceutical companies to develop early, noninvasive disease detection and for monitoring clinical drug responses.
Backed by Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s JLABS and housed at LabCentral’s shared startup facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Glympse’s financing round was co-led by LS Polaris Innovation Fund and ARCH Ventures, with additional money from Gilead Sciences, Charles River Ventures, Yonghua Capital and Inevitable Ventures.
Glympse’s previous investors, GreatPoint Ventures, Heritage Provider Network and Rivas Capital, also backed the company, following a $6.6 million seed round in 2015 led by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw at Biocon India and Theresia Gouw at Aspect Ventures.
The proceeds will help expand Glympse’s team and fund future clinical trials. Its NASH program is slated for its first trials in early 2019, with programs in cancer and infectious diseases to follow, the company said.
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“This fundraiser will propel our pipeline in NASH and cancer into the clinic, catalyze our product engine to address diseases with high global burden, and advance partnerships with pharma for real-time monitoring of drug response in patients,” said co-founder Sangeeta Bhatia, who currently heads the Cancer Nanomedicine Center at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.
Bhatia’s laboratory helped develop the company’s technology alongside Glympse’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, Gabe Kwong, a principal investigator at the Lab for Synthetic Immunity at Georgia Tech and Emory School of Medicine.
“Glympse has brought together world-class science and people, to achieve a fundamental breakthrough for in vivo sensing and monitoring of diseases involved in fibrosis, immune response, infectious diseases, and a broad range of cancers,” said Polaris’ Amy Schulman, who joins Glympse’s board of directors. “We were impressed by the company’s commitment to a therapeutic model which will be well aligned with the interests of payors, physicians, and most of all, patients.”