– ISRAEL, Tel Aviv – Ukko, a biotech company with the mission to eliminate food allergies and sensitivities, today announced $40 million in new Series B funding led by Leaps by Bayer, joined by Continental Grain Company, PeakBridge Ventures, Skyviews Life Science, and Fall Line Capital, as well as existing investors Khosla Ventures, Innovation Endeavors, and TIME Ventures.
The new funding will allow Ukko to enter clinical trials with its investigational therapeutic for peanut allergy. It will also accelerate the development of Ukko’s gluten that is designed for people with celiac and other gluten sensitivities.
Ukko harnesses artificial intelligence and protein engineering to develop healthier food and therapies for food allergies.
“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,” said Dr. Juergen Eckhardt, Head of Leaps by Bayer. “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 for our global leadership role in both health and nutrition.”
Ukko’s novel approach uses a proprietary AI-powered platform that precisely engineers food proteins to eliminate their allergenicity while keeping their good biochemical and nutritional characteristics. The platform uses patient samples, computational biology, immunology, and protein engineering to make proteins that do not trigger the immune system.
“We are at a unique crossroads in the history of science,” said Chairman and Co-founder, Prof. Yanay Ofran. “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. Ukko 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.
“We are at the forefront of a revolution. Pharma and the food industry will redefine how they think about their products and missions,” said CEO and Co-Founder, Anat Binur. “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 formed an Advisory Board that includes some of the world’s top clinical experts in food allergy and sensitivities, and experts in food and agriculture innovation, including:
- Bernhard Van Lengerich, Former CSO & VP, Technology Strategy at General Mills;
- Ann Veneman, Former US Secretary of Agriculture;
- Dr. Wesley Burks, Dean, and CEO of the Univ. of North Carolina School of Medicine and UNC Health;
- Dr. Edwin Kim, Associate Professor, Allergy & Immunology Program Director, UNC Food Allergy Initiative;
- Dr. Kari Nadeau, Director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research at Stanford University;
- Prof. Lynda Schneider, Director, Allergy Program Boston Children’s Hospital Professor of Pediatrics Harvard Medical School;
- Prof. Raanan Shamir, Chairman, Institute of Gastroenterology, Nutrition and Liver Diseases at Schneider Children’s Medical Center of Israel.
Ukko is a biotech company with the mission to eliminate food allergies and sensitivities. Ukko uses a proprietary AI-driven protein engineering platform that allows the company to develop healthier foods and new types of therapeutics. Hundreds of millions of people suffer from food allergies — a problem experts call an epidemic. Ukko is using its engineering platform to develop an investigational therapeutic for peanut allergies and improved gluten for people with gluten sensitivities including celiac that will enable making healthy and wonderful foods. The company is co-founded by CEO Anat Binur, who holds a Ph.D. from MIT and an MPH from Columbia, alongside the company’s Chairman, Yanay Ofran, who holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and is considered a leading expert in computational biology and who is also a professor at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv. Ukko is backed by some of the world’s top investors in food, pharma, ag, and technology. The company’s Advisory Board includes renowned allergy researchers and physicians, as well as executives and policymakers from the food and agriculture industries. Ukko is committed to working closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and following all applicable regulations before marketing any of its food or therapeutic products.
For more information: https://www.ukko.us/
About Bayer and Leaps by Bayer
Bayer is a global enterprise with core competencies in the life science fields of health care and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to benefit people by supporting efforts to overcome the major challenges presented by a growing and aging global population. At the same time, the Group aims to increase its earning power and create value through innovation and growth. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development, and the Bayer brand stands for trust, reliability, and quality throughout the world. In fiscal 2019, the Group employed around 104,000 people and had sales of 43.5 billion euros. Capital expenditures amounted to 2.9 billion euros, R&D expenses to 5.3 billion euros.
Leaps by Bayer, a unit of Bayer AG, leads impact investments into solutions to some of today’s biggest challenges in health and agriculture. The investment portfolio includes more than 30 companies. They are all working on potentially breakthrough technologies to overcome some specific challenges such as, e.g. regenerating lost tissue function, reducing the environmental impact of agriculture, preventing or curing cancer, and others.
For more information: https://www.bayer.com/en/
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