Discovering Biotech Startups: A map for Selling to Cypre Inc.


Written by:
David Wilkerson

Welcome to another edition of our Sponsor Atlas series, which focuses on startups and young pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are in early stages or stealth mode. In the next edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at Cypre, exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging San Francisco - based stealth biotech startup. To accomplish this, we will give a business overview of their current operations, summarize their outsourcing needs, map out their development goals and decision-makers, and highlight their current strategies for capturing innovation. If you haven’t already read our other blogs on new biotech startups, be sure to check them out here.     

Cypre, Inc. is a stealth biotech startup and developer of a cancer immunotherapy discovery platform. They are currently focusing on academia and pharma collaborations in immuno-oncology, with the mission of discovering the next generation of immunotherapies to drastically improve drug development and precision medicine in cancer patients by using innovative 3D bioprinting technology. 

Business Overview 

Cypre, Inc. does have a simple website but with hardly any information, so we had to do some old-fashioned research on our own to better understand their current pipeline, activities, and on-going research efforts. The business was registered in Delaware as a C-Corp on 2/24/2016. Their formal entity address, as noted on a business entity search, is found at 3015 Washington Street, San Francisco, CA 94115, as well as them being listed as a resident with the University of California’s QB3-MBC BioLabs accelerator facility. Most of their actual operations are taking place at the MBC BioLabs location at 953 Indiana Street, San Francisco, CA 94107. The MBC Biolabs location, established in 2013, features 24,000 sq. ft. of lab and office space in San Francisco's Dogpatch neighborhood, just a short walk from the UCSF Mission Bay Campus. Cypre is primarily categorized under Biological Products Manufacturer, and current estimates show this company has an annual revenue of $71,372 and employs a staff of approximately 1-3. 

QB3 is the University of California’s accelerator hub for innovation and entrepreneurship specifically for life sciences startups. The institute supports UC researchers and empowers Bay Area entrepreneurs to launch startup companies and partner with the biotech industry. With five incubators, multiple locations, two seed-stage venture capital firms, and a special initiative in medical devices, through the UCSF Rosenman Institute, QB3 helps early biotech startups create high-value jobs and brings over $750 million into the Bay Area each year. 

Outsourcing History

The information on the outsourcing needs of Cypre are few and far between, but their recent seed funding venture, heavy focus on product research and development, and multiple collaborations with academia and pharma labs are all very good indicators that Cypre has a solid research platform with substantial capital to spend on outsourcing activities. This company is still early in the development stage and they will be working through the usual steps for a while before coming to the mainstream market with potential products.     

During stealth mode, Cypre recently received $150,000 in seed funding on 8/24/2018 for their current product pipeline and to kick-start sales and business development efforts. The main investors for Cypre at this time are Kluz Ventures, Hemi Venture, and MBC BioLabs. So far the company has done a very good job of staying under the radar, especially with their current amount of research and seed funding.      

Cypre’s Pipeline and R&D Focus

Cypre’s current R&D focus is the development of a simple 3D cell culture platform and testing protocol that enable scientists to assay complex tumor biology, including ex vivo (patient, PDX, mouse), tumor-stromal and tumor-immune co-culture studies. Specifically, the company is developing a tumor microenvironment system intended to be used for transformative 3D cellular research and clinical testing of cancer patients. Cypre’s tumor microenvironment system consists of extracellular matrix remodeling, immune infiltration and other processes that influence tumor progression, enabling medical institutions with better and advanced drugs, and opening the door for a new generation of therapeutics and patient success. [1

Cypre has developed two innovative products in this space and they have already been used in multiple published and peer-reviewed studies, as well as in collaborations with academic institutions and most recently with a few pharma companies for profit. Cypre and Molecular Devices, a cellular imaging startup company out of San Jose, signed a co-marketing agreement to jointly market Cypre’s Symphony®/VersaGel® 3D cell culture platform and Molecular Devices’ ImageXpress® high-content imaging systems. Advances in both 3D cell culture and high-content imaging are driving big changes of in vitro and ex vivo translational modeling and cell-based screening assays. Cypre and Molecular Devices’ technologies are combined to give drug discovery and development researchers access to more biologically relevant assays and higher throughput. [2] Now let’s take a closer look at a few of Cypre’s products currently in development.

VersaGel® is Cypre's proprietary light-responsive hydrogel matrix product, that encapsulates cells in a biocompatible, growth factor free matrix that is optically clear for imaging and enzymatically digestible for downstream analysis. This biocompatible 3D matrix product has the benefits of a hydrogel with the functional relevance of an extracellular matrix (ECM). Its design allows for cellular adhesion (through integrin binding sites, e.g. RGD), tumor and immune cell invasion, and MMP-degradation, mimicking the multiple phases of tumor progression.  VersaGel-Immunology is optimized for immune cell infiltration assays and VersaGel-Oncology, used in solid tumor assays, comes in three formulations for different growth conditions of various tumor cell types – Soft, Standard, Stiff. VersaGel is amenable to various methods of analysis, including high content imaging, plate reading, and flow cytometry following a 30-minute matrix digestion. [3]  

As a complementary product, Symphony® is a 3D photolithographic instrument which patterns VersaGel in microwell plates in 60 seconds. The patterns dictate gel size, spatial arrangement of different cell populations, and even cell morphology (e.g. alignment). It consists of a computer controlled three dimensional dispensing system consisting of computers, computer hardware, computer software and three axis dispensing device for use in biotechnology, medicine, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries, for computer assisted three dimensional dispensing of biomaterials for the construction of patient specific, biofunctional, three dimensional implants, scaffolds for tissue engineering, and drug delivery systems [4]   

To validate their platform as a leader innovative 3D cell culture systems, Cypre published an article in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, in March, 2019 that describes their products and how they can be used for high-throughput bioprinting solutions. The published article describes how Cypre’s cell culture platform enabled ex vivo growth from patients and patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models assessed sensitivity to approved therapies, for example like Temozolomide, in a clinically relevant time frame, proving that it could be very useful in translational research and personalized medicine. [5] In addition to recent published articles showcasing their proposed platform, Cypre has also presented at conferences in collaboration with other biotech companies that are well known in the industry. One presentation describes the development of a novel high-throughput solution for screening drugs in a light-crosslinked tumor cell culture model by acquiring data using the ImageXpress Micro Confocal system and the Cypre VersaGel/Symphony platform. Molecular Devices Inc., is one of the leading providers of high-performance bioanalytical measurement solutions for life science research. [6]    

Cypre has also presented at some large conferences and collaborated with large companies on their proprietary immuno-oncology platform. In April 2019, Cypre presented data at the AACR conference in collaboration with Genentech demonstrating their novel 3D immune exclusion model that integrates with high content confocal analysis and is amenable to immunotherapeutic screening and translational assessment. [7] Working with big companies, such as Genentech, really boost Cypre’s scientific credibility and product traction within the scientific communities. These early strides in milestone achievements will really help with further funding of their research and development efforts in the long run.  

Decision Making

  • Dr. Kolin Hribar - Founder and CEO of Cypre, is a passionate researcher, engineer, and entrepreneur striving to transform cancer treatment with personalized diagnostics. He received a Master’s Degree in Bioengineering from University of Pennsylvania in 2011. He earned his Ph.D. in Nanoengineering from UCSD in 2015, with research specialities in 3D bioprinting, 3D cell culture, and Disease in vitro platforms. 
  • Ellen Chang, MBA - COO of Cypre, a seasoned strategic advisor and member of the board for multiple startup companies. She received an MBA in Finance and Marketing Operations at The Wharton School in 1998.

Innovation

With a substantial research backing, considerable progress in product development, and deep technical knowledge from their executives, we believe that Cypre will do very well in their early-stage product developments. Cypre’s innovative approach to 3D bioprinting has the potential to drastically improve drug development and precision medicine for cancer patients. 

Dr. Kolin Hribar, Co-founder and CEO of Cypre said, “We're very excited to be coming out with our bioprinting system as a product and I'll be able to share more details later on, but we are currently beta testing with some of our academic collaborators, and we're also taking on custom contracts with pharmaceuticals. But the key thing is we want to make sure that this becomes a very widely adopted technology in the pharma and biotech communities for drug development, and we see that as where we are going to be in the next couple of years.” [8]

As the pharma industry attempts to push the best drug candidates through clinical trials, 95% of those candidates that do make it all the way to even the human trials actually end up failing. The industry recognizes the need for human-like tests earlier in the discovery pipeline. To date, technologies either offer high throughput systems that don’t supply enough information, or animal complexity at a very low throughput and long wait times. Alternatively, Cypre offers a platform to synergize high throughput with human biological complexity, and creating a “best of both worlds” scenario for researchers.

Dr. Hribar added, “We're heavily focused most of our efforts on driving adoption of our bioprinting platform principally for drug R&D with pharmas and biotechs, but we're also working with academic collaborators in precision medicine. Our end goal is to be the nexus/link between ground-breaking scientific discovery in novel drugs with a technologically superior and easy to use bioprinting platform that's going to replace animals and basic cell culture.” [9]

Cypre is definitely on track to have some major innovations in the biotech industry, and it’s difficult to say exactly when they will come out of stealth mode, but we’re thinking it should be within the next year, so be sure to keep them on your schedule and look out for our next edition in this series coming soon.

How can I find new biotech startups?

If you would like a simple solution for keeping an eye on drug sponsor companies, like Cypre, without relying on a database and generic lists of leads each week, we at Zymewire are here to help. Reach out today, and stay tuned for the next installment of the Sponsor Atlas: Discovering new Biotechs. If you enjoy these articles, please feel free to give them a share through the social links below!

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