Limula raises $6.8m to automate cell and gene therapy manufacturing

LifeX Ventures leads seed round for Swiss startup aiming to make cell and gene therapies more affordable and accessible.

Swiss life science tools company Limula has raised $6.8 million in an oversubscribed seed funding round to advance the development of its automated cell and gene therapy manufacturing platform. The round was led by longevity focused venture capital fund LifeX Ventures, with contributions from Verve Ventures, Zühlke Ventures, Oxford Seed Fund, Lichtsteiner Foundation, W.A. de Vigier Foundation, and others.

Many longevity biotech companies are exploring cell and gene therapy approaches as they target aging and age-related diseases, but widespread access to these future therapeutics is uncertain due to current manufacturing processes, which are complex and costly.

Founded by Drs Yann Pierson, Luc Henry, and Thomas Eaton, Limula aims to address the outdated manufacturing methods that hinder the widespread adoption of these therapies, which the company claims can cost upwards of $500,000 per dose due to the need for skilled labor and specialized infrastructure.

Limula co-founders Luc Henry, Yann Pierson and Tom Eaton

Henry, Limula’s CEO, said that the company wants to make cell and gene therapies “accessible to the many, not just the few.”

“Our team is driven by the ambitious goal of developing tools that are based on a fundamentally novel way of manipulating cells outside of the body,” he said. “Our technology supports manufacturing workflows that are impossible to automate with existing tools. We believe automation is the only route to scalability and digital traceability.”

Based in Lausanne, Switzerland, the company’s platform combines a bioreactor and a centrifuge into a single closed vessel designed to minimize transfer steps, thereby reducing stress, losses, and potential contamination of cells. The platform is intended to facilitate on-demand and at-scale manufacturing, aiming to lower the cost of cell and gene therapies and increase their accessibility.

New York-based LifeX has a $100 million fund investing in entrepreneurs using software and AI to develop solutions designed to extend the life of humans and the planet.

“It’s evident that production tools have lagged behind scientific and clinical advancements, particularly in terms of price and scalability,” said Dr Inaki Berenguer, managing partner at LifeX. “Limula’s commitment to addressing these bottlenecks is crucial to enhancing accessibility for patients.”

The seed funding will support the continued development of Limula’s platform, focusing on meeting good manufacturing practice requirements. The company plans to scale its operations from pre-clinical evaluations to clinical trials and eventually to commercial-scale manufacturing of clinical-grade cell products. To validate its technology, Limula is collaborating with partners, including the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy in Milan, a leading center for cell and gene therapy research and clinical translation.

READ MORE: Our exclusive interview with LifeX Ventures

Photographs courtesy of Limula