Recombinetics, a decade-old biotechnology firm, said it has raised $34 million in equity from an unspecified health care “strategic investor” as well about a dozen individual investors.
The St. Paul-based company, which has started to make limited commercial sales, calls itself an “oinkubator”because it uses pigs to produce therapeutic cells, tissues and organs for animals and, eventually, humans.
“This financing will allow us to accelerate commercialization of this transformative science to help find cures for human diseases, develop new regenerative medicine products and breed animals that are healthier and more productive,” said CEO Tammy Lee.
Founder Scott Fahrenkrug, a former University of Minnesota genetics researcher, said the large capital infusion “reflects confidence” in the vision of the company and its execution so far. He added the proceeds will “accelerate the commercialization of genetic solutions for animal agriculture.”
The company has been issued 22 patents and focuses on three businesses: Acceligen — breeding to enhance health, well-being and productivity in food animals and aquaculture; Surrogen — gene-edited “swine models” of human diseases for biomedical research; and Regenevida — development of human regenerative products, such as cells and organs for transplantation to humans.
The 37-employee company previously had raised $24 million from affluent individual investors dating to its founding in 2008.
Recombinetics develops “precise swine models” of human diseases.
They include neurodegenerative diseases, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It also creates hornless cows that cause fewer injuries to other animals and handlers and meatier cattle that are more tolerant to heat.
Fahrenkrug launched the firm out of a desire to use genetics to relieve farmers of the messy job of dehorning calves with tools that hurt the animals. The procedure was long opposed by animal-welfare groups and some retailers.