Ukko, a Tel Aviv, Israel-based biotech company with the mission to eliminate food allergies and sensitivities, raised $40m in Series B funding.
The round was led by Leaps by Bayer, and was joined by Continental Grain Company, PeakBridge Ventures, Skyviews Life Science and Fall Line Capital, as well as existing investors Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, and TIME Ventures, the investment fund of Marc Benioff.
The company intends to use the funds to enter clinical trials with its investigational therapeutic for peanut allergy, accelerate development of its gluten that is designed for people with celiac and other gluten sensitivities.
Led by Prof. Yanay Ofran, Chairman and Co-founder, and Anat Binur, CEO and Co-Founder, Ukko leverages artificial intelligence (AI) and protein engineering to develop food and therapies for food allergies. The company’s novel approach uses a proprietary AI-powered platform that precisely engineers food proteins to eliminate their allergenicity, while keeping their good biochemical and nutritional characteristics. The platform uses patient samples, computational biology, immunology, and protein engineering to make proteins that do not trigger the immune system.
Ukko has already built a large clinically-validated molecular map of food allergies, which surfaces critical data and allows the company a rich foundation for further innovation. Ukko has also generated promising data, based on patient samples, that suggests the company’s investigational peanut and gluten proteins do not trigger allergic reactions responses in the immune system of patients.
Ukko has formed an Advisory Board that includes:
- Bernhard Van Lengerich, Former Chief Science Officer & Vice President for Technology Strategy at General Mills;
- Ann M. Veneman, Former US Secretary of Agriculture;
- Dr. Wesley A. Burks, Dean and CEO of the Univ. of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine and UNC Health;
- Dr. Edwin Kim, Associate Professor, Allergy & Immunology Program Director, UNC Food Allergy Initiative;
- Dr. Kari Nadeau, Director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University;
- Prof. Lynda Schneider, Director, Allergy Program Boston Children’s Hospital Professor of Pediatrics Harvard Medical School; and
- Prof. Raanan Shamir, Chairman, Institute of Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Liver Diseases at Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel.