Written by Allison DeAngelis
Cell therapy firm SQZ Biotechnologies Co. has spent the last several years partnering with drug giant Roche on cancer treatments. Now, the company is moving its own internal drug candidates forward, and aims to create a bedside manufacturing tool.
Singaporean investment firm Temasek, GV, Polaris Partners and others have given Watertown-based SQZ another $65 million to create immune system-stimulating drugs. That brings the 100-person startup’s grand fundraising total to around $300 million in upfront cash, with another $1 billion promised in milestone payments from Roche.
SQZ — pronounced “squeeze” — will use the Series D money to create treatments for undisclosed infectious diseases. The startup will also be developing a point-of-care manufacturing system that could create multiple doses of a medication in less than 24 hours. The company can currently manufacture a drug in one day and deliver it to patients within a week.
Founder and CEO Armon Sharei told the Business Journal that he’s always believed that SQZ’s approach would be useful against infectious diseases. Sharei studied HIV while completing his postdoctoral research at MIT, Harvard and Massachusetts General Hospital’s Ragon Institute, and started SQZ while working with noted MIT professor Bob Langer, who is behind several Covid-19 efforts and virus treatments.
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