Grant Recipients

Date funded: November 2013
Location: Emeryville, CA

Pareto Biotechnologies is a synthetic biology startup that is poised to lead the movement towards a bio-based economy.  Pareto’s platform fully leverages its dominant IP position in polyketide pathways, combining structurally-guided enzyme design and synthetic biology to develop a platform for designer molecules with universal applicability.    Pareto’s CEO, Jamie Bacher, Ph.D., is a synthetic biologist who previously managed a $100 million project at Total New Energies in partnership with Amyris.  Pareto’s co-founders include Joe Noel, Ph.D., a renowned leader in the biochemistry and application of plant secondary metabolism; Mike Mendez, founder of four successful biotech startups including Sapphire Energy, and inventor of the Xenomouse; and Mike Burkart, Ph.D., a leader in the field of polyketide and fatty acid synthases and metabolic engineering. In the near term, Pareto’s focus is on developing novel molecules for the cosmetics, flavors, and fragrances industries by 2015.  Longer term, Pareto will create molecules that can be used in nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, and industrial commodities, such as plastics, resins, and adhesives.

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Henry Tse, Daniel Gossett, Ajay Shah and Mara Macdonald

Date funded: November 2013
Location: South San Francisco, CA

CytoVale is pioneering a new class of biomarkers.  Disease states dramatically alter cells’ mechanical properties through changes in nuclear and cytoskeletal structure.  Until now, it has been impossible to measure these changes quickly and reliably enough to translate basic research observations into clinical utility.  Using microfluidics, CytoVale can measure >10 biophysical cell markers at rates >2000 cells/second, providing a high throughput, low cost method of detecting disease. This Mechanomics Platform, consisting of a benchtop instrument and disposable disease-specific sample cartridges, has been academically validated with clinical samples in the laboratory of co-founder (and UCLA Professor) Dino Di Carlo. Commercialization is driven by CEO Ajay Shah, PhD, a successful entrepreneur and an expert in cell-based diagnostics from his doctoral work (Harvard & MIT), COO, Mara Macdonald, Ph.D., and technology co-inventors Daniel Gossett, Ph.D. and Henry Tse, Ph.D.  Dino and Ajay met when working together on clinical microfluidics at Mass. General Hospital. Breakout Labs funding will allow the team to develop their diagnostic application for the early detection of sepsis.

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Craig Garner, Nick Melosh, Ari Chaney and Dan Wetmore, Co-Founders

Date funded: April 2013
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Stealth Biosciences builds nanoscale devices to measure and control biology. Stanford University professors Nick Melosh and Craig Garner developed two nanomaterial technologies – Nanostraws and Stealth Probes – that provide direct, non-destructive electrical and fluidic access to biological cells. By autonomously measuring and affecting individual cells, Stealth’s biocompatible devices represent a sensitive tool for research, therapeutic, and diagnostic applications, including: high-throughput drug discovery, regenerative medicine, oncology, and neuroscience. Garner and Melosh are joined by CEO and co-founder Ari Chaney and co-founder Dan Wetmore.  The team will use Breakout Labs funding to develop commercially available research prototypes and explore new biological applications.

 

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Rich Caneba, Nick Cassimatis and J.R. Scally

Date funded: February 2013
Location: Cohoes, NY
Update: Skyphrase was acquired by Yahoo! in December 2013.

SkyPhrase, Inc. enables computers to understand complex human language with greater precision than ever before.  At SkyPhrase, Nick Cassimatis, J.R. Scally and Richard Caneba developed breakthroughs in artificial intelligence algorithms that overcame many of the difficult challenges in making the inferences required for natural language understanding.  Before SkyPhrase, they met and worked together in Cassimatis’s laboratory at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. With the help of Breakout Labs funding, they are creating a platform for searching, accessing, analyzing and monitoring data that will make it significantly cheaper and simpler to glean important insights from broad and heterogeneous sources of data.  Their current objective is to enable scientists, engineers, businesses and consumers to use data efficiently and powerfully.

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Louis Michaud, Founder

Date funded: November 2012
Location: Sarnia, Ontario, Canada

AVEtec is the brainchild of Canadian engineer, Louis Michaud. His Atmospheric Vortex Engine (AVE) harnesses the energy of the tornado process. In his design, a controlled vortex is produced by admitting warm or humid air tangentially into a circular station. The temperature difference between this heat source and the upper atmosphere supports the vortex and can continuously drive multiple turbines. There are no carbon emissions and no need for energy storage. Michaud has projected that the cost of energy would be less than half of the cost of the least expensive alternative and could be as low as $0.03/kWh. With the funding from Breakout Labs, AVEtec has established a partnership with Lambton College inOntario to build and study a prototype.

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Eric Gaucher, Founder

Date funded: November 2012
Location: Atlanta, GA

General Genomics
intends to radically improve the efficiency with which protein- and peptide-based therapeutics, as well as industrially-relevant enzymes, can be developed. Founder Eric Gaucher’s research on ancestral sequence reconstruction, which traces the evolutionary pathway of functional proteins, has been published in the top scientific journals of the world.  Now, he intends to use this bioinformatics technology to derive functional insights that will speed the design and development of proteins for applications ranging from agriculture to therapeutics.

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Len Pagliaro, CEO and Founder

Date funded: October 2012
Location: Boulder, CO

Siva Therapeutics
is developing therapies that have the potential to be more effective, safer, less expensive, and less invasive than existing options, by exploiting the biophysical properties of engineered gold nanorods that capture infrared light to emit heat that destroys diseased tissue. A former Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Washington, Siva’s CEO and founder, Len Pagliaro, has 16 years of experience in the commercialization of biotechnology products. Following the acquisition of his previous company, BioImage, by ThermoFisher Scientific, he went in search of the next great technology to radically advance cancer therapeutics.  He and his team believe that gold nanorods, because of their unique precision, optical properties, and safety in vivo, are that technology. Breakout Labs funding will allow them to advance this hypothesis into preclinical testing.

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Andras Forgacs

Date funded: June 2012
Location: Columbia, MO

Modern Meadow is developing a fundamentally new approach to meat and leather production based on the latest advances in tissue engineering. Previously, the scientists behind this effort co-invented bioprinting, a technology to build tissues and organ structures for applications in regenerative medicine based on the computer-controlled delivery of cells in 3 dimensions. Indeed, co-founders Gabor and Andras Forgacs (a father-and-son team) have previously founded the tissue-engineering firm Organovo that pioneered organ printing for purposes ranging from drug testing to transplant.  Now, with Breakout Labs funding, they will develop the technology to produce an edible cultured meat prototype while also commercializing leather products, none of which require animal slaughter.  Their goal is to produce a range of "no kill" biomaterials that can provide a highly scalable and sustainable source of animal protein to consumers around the world.

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Caleb Bell and Dan Bell, Co-Founders

Date funded: May 2012
Location: Palo Alto, CA

Bell Biosystems
is dedicated to developing biologically inspired tools to accelerate preclinical research and development. Co-founder Caleb Bell and a world-class, multidisciplinary team of business professionals and scientists are pioneering the use of synthetic organelles to add new function to cells. Their first product, the Magnelle, generates a magnetic nanoparticle by taking up intracellular iron. Cells labeled with Magnelles can be longitudinally tracked, localized, and thermally ablated non-invasively using external magnets. Magnelles hold significant promise for applications in regenerative medicine and oncology by providing answers to some of the most sought after questions in these fields: Can cells be tracked in the body over time? Can cell division be monitored? And can specific cells be localized and destroyed?

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Obdulio Piloto and Ian Cheong, Co-Founders

Date funded: May 2012
Location: Miami, FL

Entopsis
is using nanoengineering to develop a novel, low-cost and versatile platform to assess multiple markers of disease from diverse biological samples. Rather than relying on predetermined biological molecules like nucleotides, antibodies or peptides to identify specific markers, the company is developing a synthetic microarray based on systematic alterations to biocompatible materials. Resulting binding signatures will ultimately provide diagnostic and prognostic metrics that will guide clinical decisions. Co-founders Obdulio Piloto and Ian Cheong first met more than 10 years ago during their graduate work on cancer therapeutics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Their goal is to revolutionize how diseases are identified, monitored and treated while decreasing healthcare costs and improving patient outcomes.

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Julian Gordon and Prasanthi Gandhi

Date funded: April 2012
Location: Chicago, IL

Inspirotec, LLC
is developing a universal system for collecting and identifying virtually any airborne agent. Our environment is increasingly subject to natural and man-made toxins, and this technology would allow for their capture and identification in a simple, low cost handheld device.  Breakout Labs funding will be used to develop proof-of-concept for the technology across a number of contaminant types. Julian Gordon and Prasanthi Gandhi founded Inspirotec to commercialize their joint patent. They combine a history of significant innovation, including Western Blot and Lateral Flow, with world-wide implementation and experience in global public health.

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Matt Goodman, Megan Kliman, Cody Daniel and Todd Huffman

Date funded: April 2012
Location: San Francisco, CA

3Scan Corp
is developing 3-D digital reconstruction of brain tissue, using a novel, faster, less expensive microscope technology. Building a map of connections in the brain-the connectome-is a critical step to understanding what makes the human brain unique. Their initial patented technology, the Knife- Edge Scanning Microscope (KESM), is an optical 3D scanning microscope that they will adapt for fluorescence imaging in a project funded by Breakout Labs.  Todd Huffman, founder and CEO, worked with the late Bruce McCormick, who pioneered the KESM technology.  Dr. McCormick saw connectomics and meso-scale neural architecture as a key to understanding human computation.   Fearing that the technology would languish after the death of Dr. McCormick, Todd decided to develop 3Scan Corp to enable its continued development.

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John Gledhill and Scott Shandler

Date funded: April 2012
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Longevity Biotech is developing an entirely new class of therapeutics via artificial protein technology ("Hybridtides"). Hybridtides® are peptide molecules that contain both α- and β-amino acid subunits ("α/β-peptides"), which makes them resistant to breakdown by natural digestive enzymes, tunable to very stable conformations, and able to mimic information-rich surfaces displayed by natural proteins or peptides. These features have demonstrated potent therapeutic activity with the possibility of oral biologic delivery. Breakout Labs is funding a project to establish the platform’s potential in a clinically important indication, pulmonary arterial hypertension. Co-founder, Professor Sam Gellman developed the hybridtide technology; Longevity is led by co-founder and CEO, Scott Shandler.

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Josh Machacek and Sean Casey

Date funded: April 2012   
Location: Livermore, CA

Positron Dynamics, LLC
is developing methods to enhance the production and collection of positrons, a class of elementary particles. Positrons have many near-term applications, for example, in medical imaging; in the long run, they may be a source of energy-antimatter propulsion-for space travel.  Breakout Labs funding will be used to take simulated designs for 'cooling' and capturing positrons emitted from a radioactive source into a fabricated prototype.  Thanks to a broken car radio, co-founders Ryan Weed and Joshua Machacek — both recent doctoral candidates in physics— conceived of the company on the long drive back from a rocket test in the Mojave Desert.

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Zach Hall, Matthew Scholz and Jane Yoo

Date funded: April 2012
Location: Seattle, WA

Immusoft Corporation
is re-programming human immune cells to produce therapeutics in the body. This technology could dramatically improve the ability to treat a range of diseases, as well as enhance human health and longevity.  Breakout Labs funding will allow the company to build on a prior proof-of-concept study – programming healthy human immune cells to secrete antibodies to HIV – to pursue a more promising path for clinical development: treating the rare disease MPSI with reprogrammed enzyme replacement. Founder Matthew Scholz is an entrepreneur and computer security expert, who became interested in the immune system as an information processing system. He successfully recruited a multi-disciplinary core team with substantial clinical and research experience to develop their core ISP™ technology.

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Tanya Jones and Steve Van Sickle

Date funded: February, 2012
Location: Mountain View, CA

Arigos Biomedical
is developing high-speed cooling methods for reversible, organ and whole-organism cryopreservation without the fracturing associated with current freezing technologies.  When combined with emerging advances in cryopreservation, tissue engineering, and stem cell therapies to eliminate graft rejection, this technology would make banked organs immediately available to anyone needing a transplant. Breakout Labs funding will be used to establish a proof-of-principle for the technology in isolated animal organs.  Co-founders Tanya Jones and Stephen Van Sickle together have over 35 years of practical experience in cryopreservation research and development for human tissues, beginning at Alcor Foundation.

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