Portal Biotechnologies get $5M Pre-Seed Round

Portal Biotechnologies, Inc., a cell engineering platform company, announced a $5M pre-seed round led by Pear VC, with participation from Conscience VC and 10x Capital.

Portal is implementing a simplified approach to intracellular delivery, focused on accelerating advances in RNA, gene editing, and AI-driven discovery technologies. Portal is committed to ensuring broad accessibility of its platform to enable a variety of research and therapeutic applications. The company was founded by Armon Sharei, Ph.D., founder and former CEO of SQZ Biotechnologies.

Portal’s initial product suite is based on next generation mechanical delivery technology capable of delivering many different types of cargo into a broad range of cell types. The process relies on transient perturbation of a cell’s membrane as it transits through microscopic holes in a thin, specially designed, silicon surface. This simple approach has been shown to enable delivery of a variety of molecules into cells, including siRNA, mRNA, polypeptides, antibodies and CRISPR RNP complexes, both individually and simultaneously, for multiplexed cell function modification.

“Access to the intracellular space is a critical limitation across biological research, drug development, and cell therapy manufacturing. Thanks to the support of our early investors and partners, Portal is in a strong position to deploy its technology across applications. Our hope is that by providing robust modularized solutions across scales, we will enable novel biological insights, accelerate development of new generation small or large molecules, and streamline cell therapy design and manufacturing,” said Armon Sharei, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of Portal.

Portal is continuing to expand its ongoing partnerships with several large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies as well as prominent academic institutions as part of its beta program for early adopters. The focus of these partnerships ranges from generation of multifunctional cell therapies at point-of-care, to high throughput assessment of intracellular target engagement by small molecule and peptide drug candidates. Under the ‘Powered by Portal’ model, the company is integrating its single-use cartridges with existing high throughput robots and clinical manufacturing equipment.

“We are very excited to join the Portal team and support their mission to solve one of the field’s major long-standing challenges,” said Eddie Eltoukhy, Partner and lead investor from Pear VC. “Through their platform focused business model, we hope to see broad impact across applications that could ultimately benefit many patients.”

Beyond Portal’s initial focus on supplying enabling technology for wide ranging research and clinical applications, in the future the company aims to develop a suite of cell modification modules. These modules will contain various cell modifying cargoes that can impart specific functionality in a cell without altering the genome.

Portal is a member of the Bayer Co.Lab, a cell and gene therapy accelerator co-located with the Bayer Research and Innovation Center (BRIC) in Kendall Square. Portal is also affiliated with the Roche Accelerator.

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