Federation Bio, a microbial therapeutics company targeting diseases in which the human microbiome can play a curative role, today announced that it has closed a $50 million Series A financing and expanded its leadership team. Federation Bio is pioneering new approaches for treating intractable diseases by combining an unprecedented number of microbial strains into highly diverse consortia, in some instances optimized with genetically engineered bacteria to enhance the immune system. The company was founded by Michael Fischbach, Ph.D., and Dylan Dodd, M.D., Ph.D., with support from Venrock.
Emerging scientific understanding of the human microbiome has demonstrated the profound role that microbes play in human physiology and rapidly elevated their therapeutic potential. Federation Bio’s therapeutic microbials approach is based on two scientific pillars: The first is a community platform comprising naturally occurring gut bacteria that are rationally selected to create metabolically complete microbial communities whose size and diversity rival that of natural gut microbiomes. These therapeutic consortia are designed to stably engraft in patients, creating ecosystems that durably treat chronic diseases. The company’s second platform is focused on genetically modifying certain microbes that have the unique ability to potently and specifically modulate the immune system, and live persistently in a broad range of individuals.
“Our ability to engineer beneficial commensal bacteria so that they modulate immune function creates an enormously powerful tool,”
said Dr. Fischbach.
“This platform has demonstrated potential to induce immune responses relevant to target diseases including cancer and autoimmune disorders.”
Horizons Ventures led the Series A financing, joined by existing investors Venrock and Altitude, and additional new investors Seventure Partners/Health for Life Capital. Federation Bio will use proceeds from the financing to build out its in-house development process to enable Phase 1/2 manufacturing and advance its lead program into the clinic. The company’s lead program is focused on secondary hyperoxaluria, a condition affecting more than 200,000 Americans, with the goal of entering the clinic in 2022.
The company also announced today the appointment of Emily Drabant Conley, Ph.D., as chief executive officer taking over from Venrock partner and founding CEO Racquel Bracken, as well as the additions of both Dr. Conley and John Stuelpnagel, D.V.M, to the Federation Bio board of directors. Dr. Conley spent the past decade at 23andMe, most recently serving as vice president of Business Development, where she helped play an integral role in scaling the company from 30 employees into the world’s leading platform for genetic-driven drug discovery. Dr. Stuelpnagel is co-founder, first CEO and former COO of Illumina, chairman of 10X Genomics and a director at Encoded Therapeutics.
“The Federation Bio team has already developed critical platform capabilities and generated strong pre-clinical data. With this significant new financing in place, we are excited to begin evaluating how these novel platforms can optimize the potential of microbial therapy in humans,”
“Emily’s extensive background pioneering transformative modalities and leading corporate strategy, as well as her core leadership strengths and track record building high-performing teams, make her an ideal choice to lead the stellar Federation Bio team into this next, critical phase.”
Dr. Conley and Dr. Stuelpnagel join Bracken, Dr. Fischbach, Bryan Roberts, Ph.D., of Venrock, and Patrick Zhang of Horizons Ventures on the Federation Bio board of directors. Dr. Fischbach and Dr. Dodd are also professors at Stanford University.
“Federation Bio’s completely novel approach to microbial therapy creates tremendous potential for a wide range of effective, broadly applicable therapies,”
said Dr. Conley.
“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be part of another field that’s on the verge of a massive breakthrough, heading up a company that is fully positioned to be an industry leader given their disruptive approach, exceptional team and outstanding science.”