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London Tech Week

Limula ‘cell-ebrates’ $6.8M for Swiss-made access to life-saving gene therapies

Limula team. Picture credits; Limula

Cell and gene therapies are at the cutting edge of medical innovation, offering transformative treatments for genetic disorders and cancers by altering or replacing faulty genes and reprogramming cells. Despite their potential, these therapies face significant manufacturing challenges. Current production methods are complex, costly, and hard to scale, hindering accessibility and affordability. As demand for these groundbreaking treatments increases, overcoming these manufacturing obstacles is crucial for the life sciences industry.

Limula, a life sciences startup, has announced the completion of a CHF 6.2 million ($6.8 million) seed funding round to advance their cutting-edge platform designed to automate the manufacturing of Cell and Gene Therapies (CGT). This oversubscribed round was led by LifeX Ventures, with participation from Verve Ventures, Zühlke Ventures, Oxford Seed Fund, Lichtsteiner Foundation, W.A. de Vigier Foundation, the founders, and several private investors.

Limula SA, based in Lausanne, Switzerland, is a Life Science Tools company focused on transforming the manufacturing of Cell and Gene Therapies. Founded in 2020, Limula’s mission is to support the rapid and cost-effective introduction of new advanced therapy products to the market. Their cell processing platform combines bioreactor and centrifuge functionalities into a single, closed vessel, enabling scalable and automated production of cell therapies.

Innovative technology for scalable CGT production

Limula’s technology represents a breakthrough in the production of CGT products by combining a bioreactor and centrifuge into a single vessel. This novel approach is gentler on patient cells during processing steps and streamlines production by automating traditionally manual and labour-intensive processes.

Addressing a critical need in healthcare

Over the past decade, numerous CGT products have been approved in the USA and Europe, offering new hope for patients with life-threatening conditions. However, these treatments remain inaccessible to 98% of eligible patients due to complex and costly manufacturing processes. Limula aims to democratise access to these therapies by making production more scalable and cost-effective.

Use of funds

The raised capital will support the advancement of Limula’s proprietary platform, which is currently being piloted with selected cell therapy developers. This funding will enable the company to continue innovating and refining their technology, with a focus on achieving Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) compliance.

Strategic partnerships and expert team

Limula has already formed partnerships with notable institutions such as the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy in Milan. These collaborations are crucial for testing and refining their platform in real-world settings. Additionally, the company has strengthened its team by bringing in domain experts, including Olivier Waridel, former CEO of Cytiva-owned Biosafe, Caroline Boudousquié, former Head of Process Development at the Centre for Experimental Therapeutics at the University Hospital in Lausanne, and Maria Elena Grisostolo, former VP Operations at Lunaphore.

Founders’ vision

Founded in 2020 by Dr Yann Pierson, Dr Luc Henry, and Dr Thomas Eaton, Limula is driven by the mission to revolutionise CGT manufacturing. Dr Luc Henry, co-founder and CEO, stated, “Our team is driven by the ambitious goal of developing tools that are based on a fundamentally novel way of manipulating cells outside of the body. Our technology supports manufacturing workflows that are impossible to automate with existing tools. We believe automation is the only route to scalability and digital traceability. These two aspects are keys unlocking the full potential of Cell and Gene Therapy, making them accessible to the many, not just the few.”

Industry impact

The innovative approach by Limula is poised to significantly impact the field of CGT manufacturing by reducing costs and increasing accessibility. Dr Inaki Berenguer, managing partner at LifeX Ventures, highlighted the importance of Limula’s mission, saying, “We’re thrilled to stand with the Limula team as they reinvent cell and gene therapy manufacturing. It’s evident that production tools have lagged behind scientific and clinical advancements, particularly in terms of price and scalability. Limula’s commitment to addressing these bottlenecks is crucial to enhancing accessibility for patients.”

Looking forward

With the new seed capital, Limula is set to advance their proprietary platform, which includes both a device and single-use consumables, towards GMP compliance. This development is critical for meeting the growing demand for CGT products and ensuring that more patients can benefit from these life-saving therapies.

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