Selecta Biosciences Banks $15M to Advance Nano-Sized Immune-Stimulating Drugs

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BIND Biosciences. BIND is developing nanoparticle drugs for cancer and cardiovascular disease, and the firm also shares with Selecta common investors—Flagship, Polaris, and NanoDimension.

Selecta, naturally, has recruited people with expertise on the immune system. The firm has tapped Robert Bratzler (who went to grad school at MIT with Langer) to be its executive chairman. Bratzler was previously the long-time CEO of Wellesley, MA-based Coley Pharmaceutical Group, a developer of drugs that target immune-system proteins that detect bugs and activate the body’s natural defenses. Drug giant Pfizer acquired Coley in late 2007 for $164 million.

The immune system expert inside Selecta is co-founder von Andrian, who co-chairs its scientific advisory board with Langer (an Xconomist). Andrian’s lab performs so-called intravital microscopy that allows researchers to view immune system activity in living animals. This shows at the molecular level how viruses and other nanoparticles are handled in the body. Selecta uses the discoveries made in von Andrian’s lab to design its nanoparticle drugs to target specific immune cells, Bratzler says. The firm has also recruited Lloyd Johnston, a former vice president of operations at Cambridge, MA-based biotech firm Alkermes (NASDAQ:ALKS), to head research and development of its drugs.

Selecta says that the valuation of the company increased between the first round of financing and the December 2008 closing of the Series B round—an indication that investors believe the firm’s new approach to treating immune diseases could pay off.

“In this economic environment,” Farokhzad says, “our success in raising capital from top notch investors is a wonderful validation of Selecta’s team and technology.”

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