Crystal Nyitray, Ph.D., the CEO and Co-founder of Encellin provided an overview of the company’s emerging cell tech to treat chronic endocrine disorders hypoglycemia and hypocalcemia.
Why did you start this company?
Encellin was founded because we have unique opportunity to help millions of patients. The technology developed at UCSF needed a way to move forward, so we created Encellin. Also starting a company gives you the chance a create a specialized team of people dedicated to advancing a therapy forward. We get to create a culture that cares about helping patients, and has the courage to try new ways of thinking.
We recently announced the closing of a $5.9 million Seed financing round. The round was co-led by Khosla Ventures and SV Latam Capital, with participation from Sandhill Angels and Y Combinator.
What need are you seeking to address in healthcare?
There are 10 trillion cells in our body working to keep us healthy. And when these cells are damaged or missing patients get diseases. Cell-based therapies are starting to address these issues by restoring missing or damaged cell functions. To deliver cells safely to the body, the host needs to be either:
A) Immune suppressed so that the foreign tissue can be protected or
B) Dosed with an immune shielded cell which leaves the recipient unprotected from a continually growing cell lines.
Encellin has developed a way to protect implanted cells and protect the host from rogue cells. We are protecting cells and protecting humans. With our technology we can empower cells to be living medicines in the body that can deliver therapies when and where needed.
What does your product do? How does it work?
Encellin has invented a soft cell encapsulation device (CED) that functions like a pouch to hold and help cells survive in the body. Encellin’s CED allows enclosed cells to function like smart molecular factories, releasing therapeutics when needed. Our novel CED allows cells from different sources to be loaded into the CED and implanted in a recipient. Once implanted, cells within the CED are able to maintain their normal function and exchange the needed biomolecules with the host environment to provide a therapeutic benefit.
Is this your first healthcare startup? What’s your background in healthcare?
Encellin is my first startup, but prior to Encellin I helped dozens of companies launch out of UCSF. I was at Sanofi’s External Science and Partnering, and prior to that I was doing my Ph.D. at UCSF where the core Encellin technology was developed. I want to help patients and structured my career in places where I could move groundbreaking technologies forward.
What is your company’s business model?
Encellin is building a pipeline of cell-based therapies focusing on high unmet clinical needs with a clear mechanism of action.
Who is your customer?
Our ultimate customer is the patient. However, we will also work with hospitals and payers to ensure this produce can be well covered to ensure patient accessibility.
How do you generate revenue?
Encellin is developing cell-based therapies and will follow a standard therapeutics revenue-generating model.
Do you have clinical validation for your product?
Encellin is a preclinical stage company, with proof of concept in animals. Our lead programs are at the doorstep to clinical entry.