Israeli biotech company Ukko, which is working to eliminate food allergies and sensitivities, today announced the completion of a $40 million Series B financing round. The round was led by Bayer's impact investment arm Leaps, with the participation of Continental Grain Company, PeakBridge Ventures, Skyviews Life Science and Fall Line Capital, and existing investors Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, and TIME Ventures.
Ukko uses artificial intelligence (AI) and protein engineering to develop healthier food and therapies for food allergies. The latest funding will enable Ukko to begin clinical trials with its investigational therapeutic for peanut allergy. It will also accelerate development of Ukko’s gluten that is designed for people with celiac and other gluten sensitivities.
Ukko cofounder and chairman Prof. Yanay Ofran said, "Big data allows us to understand the underpinnings of food sensitivities. Computational tools allow us to precisely design the proteins that make up our bodies and our food. New genome editing technologies allow us to rewrite DNA to produce these new proteins in living cells. Ukko sits at the intersection of these breakthrough technologies, allowing us to redefine healthy food at the molecular level, based on real data."
Ukko has already built one of the largest clinically-validated molecular maps of food allergies, which unlocks critical data and allows the company a rich foundation for further innovation. The company has also generated promising data, based on patient samples, that suggests the company’s investigational peanut and gluten proteins do not trigger allergic reactions responses in the immune system of patients.
Ukko cofounder and CEO Anat Binur said, "We are at the forefront of a revolution. Pharma and the food industry will redefine how they think about their products and missions. Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from food allergies and experts see it as a global epidemic. Ending food allergy is critical and is only the beginning. Ukko’s tech has the potential to leverage science and human data to redesign our food and medicine."
Ukko has a holistic food-to-therapy approach to solving food allergies and sensitivities. On the food side, Ukko is working on improved gluten proteins that are especially designed for people with celiac and other gluten sensitivities, which allows bakers, food companies, and home cooks to make delicious bread, pizza, pasta, and baked goods that everyone can eat. On the therapeutic side, Ukko is using its protein design platform to develop a new and promising investigational therapy for peanut allergy. Ukko’s future pipeline includes plans to address additional major food allergens. Leaps head Dr. Juergen Eckhardt said, "Ukko’s investigative approaches to solving allergies and food sensitivities both from the food side and the patient therapeutics side have the possibility of delivering enormous benefits for humanity. One of the big challenges we’re addressing through our Leaps investments is attempting to reverse autoimmune diseases, which have enormous impacts on the world’s food systems and our health systems in every community around the globe. We are proud to lead this investment in Ukko and help solve the biggest allergies and food sensitivities. It is a great fit."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 27, 2021
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