Indi Molecular Launches with $1.5 Million Seed Round Led by InterWest Partners
September 20, 2013 – Indi Molecular, which pioneered a synthetic replacement for antibodies, today announced that it has raised a $1.5 million seed round led by InterWest Partners and joined by several angel investors. The funds will be used to further develop PCC (protein catalyzed capture) agent technology: a breakthrough process that produces synthetic peptide molecules capable of binding interactions that are equivalent or superior to molecular antibodies. PCCs have several advantages over antibodies, including lower cost, faster development and greater specificity. They are being developed as a replacement for antibodies in in vivo imaging, therapeutics, in vitro diagnostics and biological tools. Indi Molecular, previously an operating division of Integrated Diagnostics (Indi), will now operate as an independent company, while maintaining close ties with its parent company.
“By replacing the monoclonal antibody with a chemically defined smaller molecule of superior overall performance, we believe that PCCs have the potential to spark a new era of vastly more sophisticated diagnostics, rationally designed therapeutics and biological tools,” said Albert A. Luderer, Ph.D., CEO and Board member, Indi Molecular. “Here’s one way to think about it: antibodies are analog; PCCs are digital. Antibodies are the old technology that is slower, costlier, less specific and less stable than generally believed. Our data suggests that PCCs will be inexpensive, stable, quick to design and produce, and highly specific. These advantages will allow a complete reinvention of processes or products that currently rely on antibodies. This means PET probes capable of simultaneously pursuing multiple disease targets; field diagnostics capable of withstanding months of high heat; and biological tools that have highly reproducible performance across millions of assays.”
PCCs are designed to bind to and detect designated motifs (epitopes) on target proteins. Indi Molecular licensed PCCs from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The technology is based on inventions pioneered by Jim Heath, Ph.D., Gilloon Professor, Caltech and co-founder and board member, Indi Molecular. Dr. Heath’s lab at Caltech and Indi Molecular continue to collaborate closely on the development of PCCs. The molecules are manufactured using “click chemistry,” a process that allows scientists to join (“click”) together molecular components with unusual precision and stability with high selectivity to the target protein. The company licensed click chemistry from the Scripps Research Institute. K. Barry Sharpless, Ph.D., the inventor of Click Chemistry (and the W. M. Keck Professor of Chemistry, The Scripps Research Institute and Nobel Laureate for Chemistry) is an advisor to the company.
PCCs are developed by using a designated region (the epitope) of the protein target as the catalytic scaffold for assembling the PCC. This epitope-directed process lends exquisite selectivity to the PCC. The small size of the resulting molecule – approximately one-fortieth the molecular weight of an equivalent monoclonal antibody – suggests a new class of diagnostic and therapeutic agents that resembles a peptide therapeutic with antibody-like binding properties.
Indi Molecular is launching with a preeminent team of advisors and Board members. The Board includes:
- James Heath, Ph.D. – co-founder & Board member, Indi and Indi Molecular; senior consultant to Indi Molecular; Elizabeth Gilloon Professor, Caltech
- Lee Hood, M.D., Ph.D. – co-founder & Board member, Indi and Indi Molecular; co-founder & president, Institute for Systems Biology
- Albert A. Luderer, Ph.D. – CEO & board member, Indi and Indi Molecular
- Douglas C. Fisher, M.D., Board member, Indi Molecular; partner, InterWest Partners
In addition to Dr. Sharpless, the company’s advisors include: Indi Molecular co-founder Michael Phelps, Ph.D., Norton Simon Professor and chair, Department of Molecular and Medical Pharmacology, UCLA Geffen School of Medicine. Dr. Phelps invented the technique of Positron Emission Tomography (PET) molecular imaging.
All existing Indi Molecular staff will continue working for the new company. Indi Molecular’s Culver City laboratory will serve as the company’s headquarters.
About Indi Molecular
Indi Molecular is an emerging life sciences company that is developing a synthetic class of diagnostic and therapeutic agents with antibody-like properties: protein-catalyzed capture agents. PCCs were created in collaboration with the California Institute of Technology using “click chemistry,” a synthetic process that allows scientists to permanently join (“click”) together molecular components with unusual precision and stability. PCCs offer the promise of superior stability, lower cost and faster creation compared to monoclonal antibodies, the current standard for identifying biomarkers in most diagnostics platforms – and in many therapeutic uses.
The company launched as a spinout from its parent company Integrated Diagnostics (Indi) in 2013 with a $1.5 million seed round led by InterWest Partners together with several angel investors. For more information visit www.IndiMolecular.com
About Integrated Diagnostics (Indi)
Indi’s mission is to build new generations of cost-effective, large-scale molecular diagnostic products for improved diagnosis of complex diseases with high unmet needs. The company is developing complex laboratory-developed molecular diagnostic tests that assist physicians with the early diagnosis of complex diseases such as lung cancer by simultaneously monitoring tens to hundreds of disease molecular markers.
The company, co-founded in October 2009 by systems biology pioneer Dr. Lee Hood, is conceptually based on a systems view of disease where pathophysiology arises from disease-perturbed networks of proteins, genes, and other molecules. Investors include InterWest Partners and The Wellcome Trust. Foundational intellectual property is exclusively licensed from the Institute for Systems Biology and Caltech. Learn more at www.indidx.com