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Micro Robotic Neuro Therapy Company Underway

Brain cell networks

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

3 Mar. 2021. A company designing microscale robotic devices to deliver therapies to the central nervous system began work in public on treatments for brain disorders. Bionaut Labs, founded in 2016 in Los Angeles, is also raising $20 million in its first venture funding round.

Bionaut Labs calls its therapy delivery a form of precision medicine, in that the robotic bionauts can deliver biologics, gene therapies, or small molecule drugs directly to precise targets in the brain. The company’s first applications are treatments for gliomas, a form of tumor affecting glial cells that support neurons or nerve cells in the brain. Bionaut Labs is also designing bionaut deliveries for Huntington’s disease, a rare inherited disorder causing degeneration of nerve cells in the brain.

Bionaut deliveries are made with tiny robotic devices, custom designed and less than a millimeter in size. The devices move by remote control from external magnetic directors, and are shaped and configured with moving parts to interact with different types of tissue where the payloads are delivered. Those interactions can involve incisions in tissue, making bionauts surgical devices as well as drug delivery vehicles. Bionauts are designed to travel through cerebrospinal fluid, brain ventricles, and brain tissue itself thus bypassing the blood-brain barrier that impedes delivery of many drugs to the brain.

Deliver therapies direct to tumors

“The bionaut approach allows us to be free of the constraints of conventional neurosurgery,” says co-founder and CEO of Bionaut Labs Michael Shpigelmacher in a company statement. “They make it possible to get to the precise brain area we want to target, providing the freedom to explore new pathways and remove the device without leaving a footprint.”

Bionaut Labs says its technology has advanced to preclinical studies with lab animals. Those studies include demonstrations of the technology with large animals and delivery of treatments in mice induced with human gliomas. The company says its research with mice shows the technology can guide and deliver therapies directly to tumors without producing adverse reactions elsewhere in the body, a drawback of most other current cancer treatments.

“This approach enhances efficacy and eliminates off-target toxicity, while also allowing the targeting of a wide range of localized diseases with almost any type of therapy,” says Errol DeSouza, who heads Bionaut Labs’ advisory board. “What’s even more exciting is that the anatomical targeting capabilities of the Bionaut platform make new therapeutic technologies such as antisense, siRNA, gene therapy, Crispr-Cas9, and oncolytic viruses viable in challenging clinical settings.”

Technology investor Khosla Ventures in Menlo Park, California is leading Bionaut Labs’ first venture funding round raising $20 million. Taking part in the round are Upfront Ventures, Revolution, BOLD Capital, and Compound. Bionaut Labs says it plans to use the proceeds to advance its work on gliomas and Huntington’s disease.

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