Parallel Bio Secures $4.3 Million Seed Round to Accelerate Drug Discovery through Human Immune System in a Dish
CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–Parallel Bio, a biotech company unlocking the human body’s own power to cure disease, today unveiled $4.3 million in seed funding. The investment capital has enabled it to prove the viability of its immune-system-in-a-dish platform and accelerate the pace of drug discovery and development. The seed funding was led by Refactor Capital, with other investors including Breakout Ventures; Jeff Dean, SVP of Google AI; Y Combinator; several biotech-focused funds; and senior executives at global pharmaceutical companies.
“It is building a new type of platform for drug discovery and development that upends a century-old reliance on animal testing. Parallel Bio’s approach promises to shave billions of dollars of waste and years of extra waiting from the drug development process.”
“Nearly 95 percent of drugs that make it to clinical trials fail, even when they work on animals first,” said Robert DiFazio, co-founder and CEO of Parallel Bio. “With this funding, we’ve been able to turn that failure into an opportunity to cure disease at a pace never seen before by starting with human systems first.”
Organoids are 3D, self-assembling models of human biology, or so-called “mini organs.” They mimic the structure and function of parts of the human body and their response to disease or treatment as if the organoids were individual patients. Parallel Bio’s platform combines immune organoids with artificial intelligence and robotics to uniquely represent organoids as a population. Its platform is the first technology of its kind to model the immune systems of entire populations, and the only immune technology that has the needed complexity and scale to flip 95 percent failure to 95 percent success.
Said Juliana Hilliard, Parallel Bio co-founder and chief scientific officer: “We have proven that our platform fully replicates human immune responses, produces antibodies against any disease target in 21 days, and can discover new immunotherapies to fight complex disease that we know will work in people from the start.”
Parallel Bio reached significant scientific and business milestones this year that enabled it to bring its immune platform to market to pharmaceutical and biotechnology partners. It comes as regulatory changes are poised to spur even more interest in non-animal methods for drug development, following U.S. Senate passage of legislation that ends the requirement for animal testing before clinical trials.
“Parallel Bio has the vision and technology to cure disease where it starts entirely through the human body,” said Zal Bilimoria, founding partner at Refactor Capital. “It is building a new type of platform for drug discovery and development that upends a century-old reliance on animal testing. Parallel Bio’s approach promises to shave billions of dollars of waste and years of extra waiting from the drug development process.”
Scientific and technical milestones reached
Parallel Bio validated its ability to reproducibly model immune systems across a diverse patient background, including robotics and analytical pipelines for scale, and filed IP on key new technologies:
- Discovered eight human high affinity antibodies for cancer and infectious diseases, paving the way for the world’s first organoid-derived drug.
- Pioneered the first high-throughput platform that can generate full blown immune responses to vaccines, allowing it to rapidly test hundreds of candidates simultaneously to know which ones will work best in patients to prevent future pandemics.
- Generated initial proof of concept for the first natural model of autoimmune disease, made possible by moving from mice to organoids, representing a potential breakthrough in treating these diseases.
- Built a large proprietary biobank of diverse patient backgrounds that enables modeling the biology of populations, a departure from current methods unable to take patient diversity into account.
About Parallel Bio
Parallel Bio unlocks the human body’s own power to cure disease. It developed the first platform that replicates the human immune system in a dish for drug discovery and development. It models human disease more realistically and accurately than animal testing—leading to the fastest path to treatments and cures that work for more people. Through its combination of immune organoids, machine learning and robotics, the platform represents the complexity of disease and the diversity of patients at population scale. Based in Cambridge, Mass., the company was founded in 2021 by two scientists responsible for creating the world’s first scalable human immune organoid. Learn more at https://www.parallel.bio.