BIND and Selecta Pull in $50M from Russian Fund Seeking to Advance Nano-Drugs

Xconomy Boston — 

Two Boston-area startups—both of which emanated from the lab of MIT bioengineer and entrepreneur Bob Langer—announced today that they secured $25 million a piece in funding from Rusnano, a $10 billion Russian Federation fund that supports nanotechnology startups. The money went to Watertown, MA-based Selecta Biosciences and Cambridge, MA-based BIND Biosciences. Each company also added $22.25 million from current and new investors. Total it all up and it’s a huge haul: $94.5 million in the two companies combined.

Rusnano was founded in March of this year and is owned by the Government of the Russian Federation. The organization’s mission is to co-invest in nanotech projects that it believes will offer substantial economic and social benefits to Russia. As part of the deal, BIND and Selecta will each establish subsidiaries in Moscow. “They’ll be able to leverage the scientific and technical expertise, the clinical resources, and even the manufacturing resources in Russia,” says Noubar Afeyan, CEO of Flagship Ventures, which was a founding investor in both BIND and Selecta. “We see it as a multi-pronged opportunity.”

The seeds for the Rusnano deal were planted about three years ago, when Afeyan met some of the professionals who would ultimately come to manage the Russian fund. At the time, Afeyan says, he was serving on the board of the Skolkovo School of Management in Moscow. He arranged for his Russian contacts to tour Langer’s lab at MIT, as well as other institutions working on nanotechnology. “They were impressed with the potential of nano-medicine, especially in cancer,” Afeyan says.

The nanotechnology at the heart of this deal originated at labs directed by Langer and by Omid Farokhzad, a professor at Harvard Medical School. BIND and Selecta are pursuing different applications for the invention—nanoparticles that can hone in on specific targets in the human body and deliver drugs to them without … Next Page »

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