OXFORD, England–Ochre Bio, a biotech company developing RNA medicines for chronic liver diseases, today announced the closing of a $9.6M seed financing round led by Khosla Ventures, with participation from Backed VC, Apollo Health Ventures, Selvedge, Hoxton and Hermes-Epitek. The funding will be used to advance the development of Ochre Bio’s RNA therapies and expand their deep phenotyping platform to identify and validate new liver targets.
Using deep phenotyping (‘phenomics’), the company digitizes liver biology at scale, from healthy through to advanced liver disease. Ochre Bio has already generated massive amounts of spatial genomics data from freshly donated human livers, and have uncovered hundreds of novel potential liver targets that are currently being validated in their labs. By 2022, Ochre will have built a complete in silico human liver of over 1011 measurements, to predict the effect of perturbing any gene in any major liver cell type.
In addition to deep phenotyping of human livers, Ochre Bio is able to test therapeutics in explanted livers being maintained extracorporeally. They have developed a full stack GalNAc-siRNA development process, through to validating candidates in these actively perfused human livers. This funding will be used to onboard five transplant center partners to test their therapies on discarded donor livers.
“The convergence of new genomic technologies and machine learning allows us to digitize liver biology and develop RNA therapies at an incredible pace,” said Quin Wills, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder, Ochre Bio. “Combining this with direct-to-human testing in human livers maintained on machines is a step-change for a field plagued by clinical failures.”
“I have been impressed with the progress this very talented team has made to accelerate development of their deep phenotyping platform,” said Alex Morgan, M.D., Ph.D., Partner, Khosla Ventures. “The liver is a major convergence point in human metabolism and many aspects of health throughout the body, and the company’s approach of developing treatments that can improve the transplant success of livers and then using those insights to create therapies for the larger market of general diseases associated with the liver is a creative and unique approach.”
“We invested in Ochre Bio given their elegant scientific strategy to tackle chronic, age-related diseases. They use advanced genomics to identify and shut down genes driving disease, and can quickly evaluate therapeutic efficacy using discarded donor livers that they keep alive on a machine,” said Dr. Jens Eckstein, Managing Partner, Apollo Health Ventures. “This approach accelerates the time to proof-of-concept in the relevant human organ, and positions Ochre Bio with a key advantage in an important space.”
“We’re delighted to attract such a strong group of investors. This financing will allow us to advance development of our therapeutic platform, as well as move products toward clinical development,” said Jack O’Meara, CEO & Co-Founder, Ochre Bio. “We are quickly establishing a global network of transplant partners across Europe and North America to validate candidates, and we recently opened up a Taiwanese lab to study liver disease in Asia. This funding will put us on track to developing highly efficacious and safe medicines for patients suffering from chronic liver disease. It’s a complete rethink of drug development for one of the most challenging health conditions of our time.”
About Ochre Bio
Ochre Bio is a biotechnology company developing RNA medicines for chronic liver diseases, a top ten global killer. We uncover new biological pathways by using advances in ‘deep phenotyping’, and then study our medicines in human livers kept alive on machines. In doing so, Ochre Bio ensures that the medicines we bring to the clinic are highly likely to successfully improve patient lives. Situated within the heart of Oxford’s biotech innovation hub, Ochre is built on over 15 years experience in liver genomics and bringing advanced therapies to market. To learn more, please visit www.ochre-bio.com.