After working under the radar for four years, LA-based startup Bionaut Labs has unveiled its tiny, remote-controlled microscale robots that can travel through the human body to deliver targeted doses of medicine. The Lab has also announced $20 million financings led by Khosla Ventures.
The startup wants to revolutionize the treatment of central nervous system disorders (CNS) with its Bionaut precision medicine treatment modality. It uses these tiny robots to deliver biologics, nucleic acids, or small molecule therapies locally to targeted brain disease areas.
Bionauts are smaller than a millimeter and can be constructed in different versions with custom geometries and surface characteristics. The microrobots are designed to navigate through tissues and go where today’s surgeons cannot. They contain moving parts controlled by a magnetic controller, allowing them to safely reach the target and release a therapeutic payload from the cargo compartment.
The tiny machines resemble a miniature screw that can push its way through the body’s inner spaces via rotational movement. To achieve this movement, the invisible device is guided only by magnetic fields generated outside the patient’s body. These small robots are much less invasive than surgical drills, probes, and needles used today.
“Bionauts can transform the way the biopharmaceutical industry develops treatments, allowing us to engineer the therapeutic index for improved efficacy and better safety,” said Michael Shpigelmacher, co-founder and CEO, Bionaut Labs. “The Bionaut approach allows us to be free of the constraints of conventional neurosurgery. 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 has demonstrated safe and controlled navigation of its therapeutic Bionaut to and from the treatment locus in the brain in a large animal in vivo model. Furthermore, the company has successfully treated human glioma tumors established in mice, utilizing guided delivery of therapeutic cargos directly into these tumors to eliminate systemic toxicity. These results pave the way to the clinical trials of the Bionaut platform.
“Bionauts enable safe, minimally invasive access to deep brain structures to treat CNS disorders by facilitating precise delivery of therapeutic agents. 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,” added Errol DeSouza, Ph.D., co-founder, Neurocrine Biosciences, and Head of 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.”