Omid Farokhzad didn’t have to travel far to find a private biotech that he wanted to go public with his $ 200 million blank check company.
Senti Bio – the synthetic biology game launched and now led by MIT genius Tim Lu – will merge with Dynamics Special Purpose Corp. of Farokhzad, the companies said Tuesday morning, in a deal that is expected to generate $ 296 million in gross proceeds.
Using a genetic circuitry technology platform from Lu’s lab, Senti promises to program “sense-compute-response” capabilities in cell and gene therapy.
The engineered method promises to improve efficiency, specificity and durability – all key qualities sought by any cell and gene therapy developer.
Bayer subsidiary BlueRock Therapeutics was one of them. Earlier this year (actually the day after Farokhzad’s IPO for its SPAC), BlueRock committed to deploying the technology in the development of new cell therapies for regenerative use.
The merger marks a strong endorsement of a deeply connected group in the biotechnology field. The Dynamics Special Purpose Corp team includes CFO Mark Afrasiabi, who had co-chaired the investment committee of Silver Rock Financial, CEO Rowan Chapman of J&J Innovation and three independent board members: David Epstein, the former chief pharmaceutical officer of Novartis now at Flagship, former CEO of Illumina Jay Flatley and the senior managing partner of SoftBank Vision Fund, Deep Nishar.
Farokhzad, CEO of Seer, a longtime Harvard scholar and serial entrepreneur, hailed Senti’s foundational technology for having “revolutionary implications for the treatment of various cancers, as well as potential applications beyond oncology.” .
In addition to cash reserves within Dynamics, existing SPAC investors step in to provide $ 86 million, including ARK Investment Management, funds and accounts managed by Counterpoint Global (Morgan Stanley Investment Management), Invus funds and T Rowe Price. Others, including 8VC, Amgen Ventures, LifeForce Capital, NEA, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, are helping to boost PIPE’s funding to $ 153 million.
“With recent advances in synthetic biology, computation and the massive generation of biological data, I believe we have a unique opportunity to design smart cell and gene therapies that directly address heterogeneity and nature. disease dynamics, which have the potential to fundamentally transform our therapeutic arsenal, ”Lu said in a statement.
The new funds, he added, will feed the internal pipeline as Senti plans to file its first INDs in 2023 for a logic-triggered allogeneic CAR-NK cell therapy dubbed SENTI-202 (for acute myeloid leukemia) and a another allogeneic multi-arm CAR -NK cell therapy nicknamed SENTI-301 (for hepatocellular carcinoma). The team will also work on additional candidates while developing clinical-scale manufacturing of standard CAR-NK cell therapies.