TDK Ventures backs MEMS-based genome editing tools company, Mekonos

  • Silicon Valley-based Series A startup Mekonos brings groundbreaking advances in precision “ex vivo” delivery technologies to the $1B+ cell-line development and $30B gene-editing markets
  • Mekonos couples digital microfluidics with nanoengineered MEMS onto a single integrated chip, enabling variable payload delivery of genome editing molecules with single-cell precision
  • TDK Ventures investment in Mekonos will allow the startup to leverage TDK’s industry experience in MEMS and high-volume industrial manufacturing to support its revolutionary vision for cell and gene therapies

TDK announced that subsidiary TDK Ventures has invested in biotech tools company Mekonos to accelerate the development and deployment of Mekonos’ integrated molecular delivery chip, which brings much needed scaling and single-cell precision to next generation cell and gene therapies. By investing in Mekonos, TDK Ventures continues TDK’s legacy commitment to MEMS and BioMEMS solutions to progress and improve healthcare, furthering the startup’s approach that leverages precision-engineering and a novel MEMS technology built for scalable manufacturing.

Cell and gene therapy (CGT) is a new form of treatment against serious illnesses that utilizes advances in molecular biology and gene editing inside of cells. In many cases, CGTs may serve as an alternative to more macro-invasive procedures, such as surgery or even small molecule drugs or biologics. CGT is one of the fastest growing market in therapeutics, with an estimated market size in 2026 to be $70.5B growing at a CAGR of 52%. Over 1,220 clinical trials are underway in CGT with up to 20 annual FDA approvals expected by 2025. In contrast with traditional therapeutics, development of cell and gene therapies is an inefficient and riskier process, limiting the speed at which discoveries can be advanced. For example, cell therapies often require cells from the patient to be extracted and injected with cell or gene payloads outside the body in a lab. This ex vivo engineering, or transfection process, is currently done using techniques like electroporation, viral vectors, or via shearporation that are decades old. Such state-of-the-art technology offers poor cell viability after transfection or lacks precision for dose control. Mekonos has developed a novel delivery technology using a proprietary cell-engineering platform, using silicon chip technology (MEMS) for extremely precise delivery of molecules into any type of cells, which allows for faster, more reliable research, development, and eventually manufacturing for these cell and gene therapy products.

Mekonos’ precision-engineering approach includes a novel MEMS technology that will help in discovering, testing, validating new biological targets and scaling manufacturing for cell and gene therapy companies to catalyze new cures and treatments and contribute to society is a perfect fit for TDK Ventures’ mission,” said Nicolas Sauvage, President, TDK Ventures. “We believe that with our experience in MEMS, industrial manufacturing, and automation, our TDK Goodness could be valuable to share with the Mekonos’ team to accelerate their success.”

Mekonos and TDK Ventures share synergistic values in our commitment to contribute and enrich society in building a better world,” said Anil Narasimha, CEO and co-founder, Mekonos. “They are also known leaders in the MEMS industry with valuable experience in manufacturing. We look forward to this monumental opportunity to collaborate moving forward, and to work together to bring about new hope and therapies for families everywhere struggling with illness and limited treatment options.”

Mekonos’ team of experts – hailing from the likes of Stanford, Berkeley, MIT, and Purdue – have coalesced innovations in microfluidics, MEMS nanoengineering, and surface chemistry to provide a solution that is not only more robust, but extremely versatile. Mekonos’ Scientific Advisory Board includes world-renowned scientists Irving Weissman (founder of Forty Seven, acquired by Gilead Sciences) and Carolyn Bertozzi (former board member at Eli Lilly and scientific advisor at GSK).  Mekonos raised an oversubscribed Series A round amounting to $25M, co-led by Reimagined Ventures and Fiscus Financial, and PEAK6. New institutional and strategic investors, including Section 32, Sands Capital, Debiopharm, and TDK Ventures and previous investors, including Novartis Pharma AG, Elementum Ventures, and Good AI Capital, also participated in the round.