Waypoint Bio secures USD 14.5Mln seed funding to turbocharge drug discovery

Waypoint Bio Co-founders and CEO Xinchen Wang (L) and Chief Scientific Officer David Phizicky (R)
Waypoint Bio Co-founders and CEO Xinchen Wang (L) and Chief Scientific Officer David Phizicky (R)

Waypoint Bio (aka “Waypoint”), a biotechnology company pioneering novel cell therapies for solid tumors using in vivo spatial pooled screening technology, recently announced $14.5 million in seed funding led by Hummingbird Ventures with participation from other institutional investors, including Recode Ventures and pre-seed lead Fifty Years.

The FDA recently approved the first ever cell therapy for solid tumors, yet innovation in this area has been slow given the challenges of the solid tumor microenvironment and difficulty testing therapies in relevant model systems at-scale. Waypoint’s platform – which uniquely combines spatial biology with pooled screening for the purpose of drug discovery – can conduct initial screens of cell therapy designs in vivo and simultaneously measure hundreds of phenotypes at the single cell level, helping illuminate which designs work and why. This novel approach enables the simultaneous measurement of how many cell therapy candidates can navigate multiple aspects of the solid tumor microenvironment, helping guide the engineering of cell therapy designs for the treatment of historically intractable diseases, such as pancreatic cancer.

Waypoint Bio

“Pooled screening is an incredibly powerful technology for drug discovery, but it’s historically been limited to measuring simple cell phenotypes, such as growth or drug resistance. This limits the technology’s value in more complex diseases where interactions between cells and their environment are key, including T cell interactions with solid tumors in cancers,” said Xinchen Wang, PhD, Co-founder and CEO. “Our platform turbocharges traditional pooled screening by leveraging spatial biology to generate complex, multivariate and spatial readouts for every perturbation, helping us quickly generate novel drug candidates with a greater probability of clinical success.”

“We built our platform so that we could start our discovery process directly in mouse models, skipping the in vitro step while still testing cell therapy designs at high-throughput and lower cost,” said David Phizicky, PhD, Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer. “This scale of in vivo testing allows us to screen many more innovative cell therapy designs with higher potential for clinical translatability. Using spatial biology, we’re able to read out not only which assets show efficacy in vivo, but also why these assets succeed or fail, and which assets match the phenotypes observed from patient samples. This level of detail presents a potential leap forward in cell therapy design.”

Waypoint will use its seed financing toward first designing CAR T-cell therapies with superior efficacy against the tumor microenvironment, and later, Treg therapies for autoimmune diseases.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Xinchen and Dave and lead Waypoint Bio’s seed funding, which will accelerate Waypoint’s plans to develop solid tumor cell therapy designs using spatial biology at scale,” said Pablo Lubroth, Investor, Hummingbird Ventures. “Waypoint Bio’s founders are part of an extremely unique subset of scientists that understand the wet lab and computational biology equally well, evidenced by how they combine an in vivo spatial pooled screening platform to generate interpretations of disease that open the door for many new therapies for underserved patients.”


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