Cellino bags $80 million to autonomise stem cell therapy manufacturing

Leaps by Bayer leads $80m Series A to enable Cellino to significantly expand patient access to stem cell-based therapies.

Cellino Biotech, Inc, an autonomous stem cell therapy manufacturing company, has announced the completion of a Series A financing of $80 million, led by the impact investment arm of Bayer AG (Leaps by Bayer), 8VC and Humboldt Fund. New investors in the round include Felicis Ventures and others, joining existing investors The Engine and Khosla Ventures. The company has raised a total of $96 million in gross proceeds from private financings to date.

Longevity.Technology: Cellino is on a mission to make stem cell-based regenerative medicines accessible for all eligible patients. Stem cell-derived therapies are poised to prevent, treat and potentially reverse diseases for which no options are available today or the current standard of care is insufficient. Currently, large scale production of stem cell therapies is challenging due to extensive manual handling, high variability and expensive manufacturing costs, but Cellino’s next-generation manufacturing platform combines AI and laser technology to automate cell therapy manufacturing to reduce expenditures and overcome scaling limitations.

Cellino’s ground-breaking approach has the potential to reduce production costs by an order of magnitude and expand patient access to cell therapies. Leaps by Bayer, which is continuing to fund the development of next-generation therapies, said investing in Cellino represents a unique opportunity for the company.

“Leaps by Bayer’s mission is to invest in paradigm-shifting technologies that provide long-term answers to some of today’s biggest challenges,” said Juergen Eckhardt, MD, Head of Leaps by Bayer. “We believe that artificial intelligence-driven manufacturing is the next important inflection point towards industrializing cell therapies, which undoubtedly are one of the core technologies to advance biotech from treatment to prevention or disease reversal. Cellino’s truly transformative approach to autonomously manufacture stem cell-based therapies fits precisely with our ambition to regenerate lost tissue function for millions of patients [1].”

Driven by software

“Cellino’s software-driven closed loop platform is necessary to industrialize stem cell-derived therapies, which are highly complex in nature,” said Nabiha Saklayen, PhD, CEO & Co-Founder, Cellino. “We are grateful for the support of new and existing investors who are committed to building an AI-driven future for regenerative medicine. I am honored to lead and grow a team of industry experts across laser physics, deep learning, and stem cell biology who are on a mission to democratize cell therapies for all eligible patients [1].”

“Cellino’s software-driven closed loop platform is necessary to industrialize stem cell-derived therapies, which are highly complex in nature,”
Cellino co-founders (L-R) Marinna Madrid, Nabiha Saklayen and Matthias Wagner

Proceeds from the Series A financing will considerably expand Cellino’s software, machine learning and hardware capabilities for end-to-end manufacturing of both autologous and allogeneic stem cell-based therapies. In addition, Cellino is building a long-term collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), where senior investigator Dr Kapil Bharti is leading the first autologous induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived clinical trial in the US, to validate Cellino’s manufacturing approach. The company also plans to build early-stage GMP capabilities to support clinical trials.

Cellino’s next-generation process combines label-free imaging, high-speed laser editing, and artificial intelligence (AI) to automate cell reprogramming, expansion, and differentiation in a closed cassette format. Cellino’s approach enables the parallel processing of thousands of patient samples in a single facility, which is vital for scalable manufacturing. Inspired by the semiconductor industry, the company plans to build the first autonomous human cell foundry in 2025.

[1] https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220125005433/en/Leaps-by-Bayer-Leads-80M-Series-A-Financing-for-Cellino-Biotech-to-Autonomize-Stem-Cell-Therapy-Manufacturing

Photographs: Cellino