Waypoint Bio Secures $14.5 Million to Advance Drug Discovery with Innovative In Vivo Spatial Pooled Screening Technology

by Roman Kasianov       News

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Waypoint Bio, a biotechnology company focused on developing novel cell therapies for solid tumors, has raised $14.5 million in seed funding. This funding round, led by Hummingbird Ventures with contributions from Recode Ventures and Fifty Years, will support the company's efforts to enhance drug discovery using its proprietary in vivo spatial pooled screening technology.

Waypoint Bio co-founders and Xinchen Wang (L) and David Phizicky (Credit: Waypoint Bio)

Approach to Cell Therapy

Waypoint Bio is addressing the challenges in solid tumor treatment by combining spatial biology with pooled screening. This approach allows for initial screening of cell therapy designs in vivo and the measurement of hundreds of phenotypes at the single-cell level. The ability to analyze how various cell therapy candidates interact with the solid tumor microenvironment simultaneously is an advancement in understanding and developing effective treatments for complex diseases such as pancreatic cancer.

See also: The Promise Of Cell Technologies In Immunotherapy

Technological Advancements

The recent approval of the first-ever cell therapy for solid tumors by the FDA highlights the potential of this field, yet progress has been hindered by the complexities of the tumor microenvironment. Waypoint Bio's platform seeks to overcome these challenges by leveraging spatial biology to provide complex, multivariate, and spatial readouts for each perturbation. This technology aims to enchance traditional pooled screening methods, which have historically been limited to simpler phenotypes like cell growth or drug resistance.

Founders' Vision and Expertise

Co-founders Xinchen Wang, PhD, and David Phizicky, PhD, combine wet lab and computational biology expertise at Waypoint Bio. Their platform begins the discovery process directly in mouse models, avoiding the in vitro step and allowing for high-throughput, cost-effective testing of cell therapy designs. This method identifies effective assets and clarifies the mechanisms behind their performance, matching these findings with phenotypes observed in patient samples.

Future Applications and Goals

Waypoint Bio plans to utilize its seed financing to develop CAR T-cell therapies targeting the tumor microenvironment with superior efficacy. Following this, the company aims to design Treg therapies for autoimmune diseases. This ambitious plan is supported by a team of 11 researchers, scientists, and engineers, as well as a Scientific Advisory Board featuring experts from renowned institutions such as the Broad Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and UCLA.

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