Nutcracker Therapeutics Strengthens Leadership Team with Appointment of Madhavan Balachandran as Chief Operating Officer

Emeryville, Calif. – September 23, 2020 – Nutcracker Therapeutics, Inc., a company developing and producing mRNA therapeutics on its proprietary, microfluidic, biochip-based platform, today announced the appointment of Madhavan (“Madhu”) Balachandran, former executive vice president of operations at Amgen, as chief operating officer. Mr. Balachandran will oversee all operational aspects of the company including manufacturing and product development functions. 

“Madhu initially joined Nutcracker as the chair of our CMC Advisory Board, and has been instrumental in guiding the development of our proprietary GMP-in-a-box system for developing, manufacturing, and delivering mRNA therapeutics,” said Nutcracker co-founder and CEO Igor Khandros, Ph.D. “Madhu is a manufacturing visionary, and brings strong desire, experience and organizational development expertise to applying next generation technologies to development and manufacturing of novel therapies. Madhu will be instrumental in building Nutcracker into an important company that will deliver our own and our partners’ RNA therapeutics to a multitude of patients.”

Mr. Balachandran brings decades of leadership experience in manufacturing and operations, and a record of transforming drug manufacturing through implementation of transformative new technologies. In addition to assuming his role as COO of Nutcracker, he will continue to serve as a director of Catalent, Inc., uniQure NV, A2 Biotherapeutics, and the Stevanato Group. Mr. Balachandran received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, an M.S. in chemical engineering from the State University of New York in Buffalo, and an MBA from East Carolina University.

“I am delighted to join Nutcracker to help drive the company’s next phase of evolution,” said Mr. Balachandran.  “I believe that as new therapeutic modalities get increasingly complex and personalized, it will be essential for biopharmaceutical companies to adopt new breakthrough technologies in order to fully unlock the potential of these drugs to help patients worldwide. I am convinced that Nutcracker’s platform represents a dramatic leap forward for RNA therapeutics, and I am eager to help the company advance its proprietary mRNA programs and deploy the technology through strategic partnerships.”

About Nutcracker Therapeutics, Inc.

Founded in 2018, Nutcracker Therapeutics is bringing the combined power of high-technology engineering and advanced biosynthesis to RNA therapeutics through its push-button mRNA synthesis and formulation platform. Armed with this high-tech advantage, we will advance mRNA therapeutics into the clinic and engage in strategic partnerships with clinical institutions and pharmaceutical/biotech companies. Our GMP-in-a-box approach to manufacturing is expected to offer significant cost, cycle time, capacity and point-of-care execution advantages over other RNA manufacturing approaches. Supporting our initial focus on mRNA therapeutics for oncology, our platform will ultimately enable the development and manufacturing of all RNA therapeutics to benefit patients worldwide. 

Media Contacts

Sarah Sutton
Glover Park Group
ssutton@gpg.com
202-337-0808

Danielle Cantey
Glover Park Group
dcantey@gpg.com
202-337-0808

Nutcracker Therapeutics Announces $60 Million Series B Financing to Advance mRNA Therapeutics Produced on Transformational Biochip-Based ACORN Platform

Emeryville, Calif. – September 23, 2020

  • Financing led by ARCH Venture Partners
  • Company aims to efficiently develop, manufacture and deliver mRNA medicines to patients worldwide using its proprietary push-button “GMP-in-a-box” system
  • Company will initially focus on developing first-in-class mRNA therapeutics for oncology indications and forging collaborations with biotech and pharma companies

Nutcracker Therapeutics, Inc., a company developing and producing mRNA therapeutics on its proprietary, microfluidic, biochip-based platform, today announced that it has raised $60 million in Series B financing led by ARCH Venture Partners with participation from other top healthcare investors, including Bluebird Ventures, a firm associated with Sutter Hill Ventures.

Nutcracker has combined the productivity of RNA biology with innovations inspired by semiconductor manufacturing techniques to develop a proprietary miniaturized platform that enables the rapid discovery, development and manufacturing of mRNA therapies and vaccines. The “GMP-in-a-box” ACORN platform is a first-of-its-kind, computer-controlled RNA manufacturing system that starts with a nucleic acid sequence of interest and produces optimized nanoparticle-encapsulated RNA therapeutics on dedicated, single-use biochips. All steps are performed in an automated, fully isolated microfluidic path, enabling rapidly scalable, efficient manufacturing of high-quality products within smaller footprint facilities with reduced operating costs compared to conventional bioreactor manufacturing.

Igor Khandros, Ph.D., is co-founder and chief executive officer of Nutcracker Therapeutics.  Khandros previously founded three publicly traded companies including FormFactor, Inc., and Berkeley Lights, Inc.

“RNA-based therapeutics are emerging as an important new class of medicines,” said Dr. Khandros. “We founded Nutcracker based on our conviction that to fulfill the promise of RNA therapeutics, we must meld the productivity of RNA biology with semiconductor-like development and manufacturing controls and discipline. Our platform can efficiently create both patient-specific and broadly applicable RNA medicines and enables the rapid scaling of GMP manufacturing. We are applying the platform to develop Nutcracker’s own RNA medicines, with an initial focus on mRNA therapies for oncology, and these programs will incorporate our proprietary delivery vehicles and mRNA designs. We are also establishing partnerships with other biopharma companies across a range of indications and RNA therapeutics.”

Dr. Khandros adds, “Bob Nelsen and ARCH Venture Partners are unique investors who possess a founders’ mindset, and are determined, as we are, to enable delivery of these life-saving medicines to all patients in need, at any time and in any part of the world.”

“The field of RNA therapeutics has tremendous potential, and Nutcracker’s platform is ideally positioned to rewrite the rules of what is possible with RNA, from the design and optimization phase through manufacturing and ultimately, through delivery to patients worldwide,”  said Robert Nelsen, co-founder and managing director of ARCH Venture Partners.

ACORN Platform

The ACORN system uses proprietary hardware and software to manufacture nanoparticle-encapsulated mRNA therapies on biochips. In development mode, it can rapidly perform the efficient selection of lead therapeutic candidates with optimized delivery vehicles out of a vast number of combinations, increasing the quality of leads and the probability of success.

In manufacturing mode, the ACORN system delivers optimized mRNA therapies using an exact, repeatable and easily scalable and deployable process which is fully executed on biochips with enclosed fluid path.

Nutcracker has also developed, and continues to grow, a library of unique proprietary delivery vehicles for RNA medicines, designed to optimize delivery for different indications.  A proprietary mixing and formulation on biochips result in optimized nanoparticles containing single or multiple RNA molecules.

About Nutcracker Therapeutics, Inc.

Founded in 2018, Nutcracker Therapeutics is bringing the combined power of high-technology engineering and advanced biosynthesis to RNA therapeutics through its push-button mRNA synthesis and formulation platform. Armed with this high-tech advantage, we will advance mRNA therapeutics into the clinic and engage in strategic partnerships with clinical institutions and pharmaceutical/biotech companies. Our GMP-in-a-box approach to manufacturing is expected to offer significant cost, cycle time, capacity and point-of-care execution advantages over other RNA manufacturing approaches. Supporting our initial focus on mRNA therapeutics for oncology, our platform will ultimately enable the development and manufacturing of all RNA therapeutics to benefit patients worldwide. 

About ARCH Venture Partners

ARCH Venture Partners invests in advanced technology companies and is one of the largest early stage technology venture firms in the United States. The firm is a recognized leader in commercializing technologies developed at academic institutions, corporate research groups and national laboratories. ARCH invests primarily in companies it co-founds with leading scientists and entrepreneurs, bringing innovations in life sciences and physical sciences to market.

Media Contacts

Sarah Sutton
Glover Park Group
ssutton@gpg.com
202-337-0808

Danielle Cantey
Glover Park Group
dcantey@gpg.com
202-337-0808