Eligo Bioscience, a Paris, France-based microbiome company developing drugs to prevent and treat bacteria-associated diseases, secured $20m in Series A round of financing.
Backers included Khosla Ventures and Seventure Partners, including a $2m award from the Worldwide Innovation Challenge.
The company intends to use the funds to strengthen its biotherapeutic platform, begin clinical trials for its lead indication and grow its international team of scientists, engineers, and executives.
Founded in 2014 by Dr. Xavier Duportet, Dr. David Bikard and Associate Professors Timothy Lu from MIT and Luciano Marraffini from Rockefeller University, Eligo is developing a programmable biotherapeutics platform, specifically designed to treat bacteria-related diseases at their source and improve overall microbiome health. This new generation of drugs, eligobiotics, are essentially biological nanobots, built of DNA and protein, that deliver a customized therapeutic payload to specific types of bacteria. Upon finding their target, these nanobots can either kill the bacteria or transiently turn them into drug producers depending on the payload they carry.
The first application of the eligobiotics platform is targeting specific diseases by delivering a CRISPR-Cas payload into gut microbiome to selectively kill pathogenic bacteria.
Once inside the bacteria, the CRISPR system first scans the bacterial DNA for the culprit gene. If the sequence is detected, the system cuts the DNA beyond repair, killing the bacteria almost instantly. This selective process ensures the removal of the pathogenic bacteria while leaving the rest of the microbiome intact, allowing the rest of the flora to reestablish a healthy balance.
The modularity of the platform also enables the delivery of other payloads into the microbiome to modulate immune responses, drug metabolism or create transient drug production directly from within the gut, opening a wide range of applications.