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Lumen Wins Triple Funding Boost to Advance Development of Low-Cost Therapeutics for Newborns and Infants in Developing Countries

Encouraging early antibody research triggers funding increase

Seattle, WA—June 13, 2018—Lumen Bioscience, a Seattle company developing novel biologics on its proprietary Spirulina expression platform, announced today that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has tripled its funding commitment for Lumen’s ultra-low-cost antibody therapeutics program.

The foundation-funded project is researching antibody-based medicines to protect developing world infants from intestinal pathogens. The increase was prompted by encouraging early, positive results from the initial proof of concept phase of the program, which was announced in January. The new funding will go toward producing additional antibodies that block or limit the growth of pathogenic bacteria, and toward supporting work with additional research organizations in the U.S. and Europe. These antibodies will be further optimized for Lumen’s proprietary Spirulina production and delivery technology, and produced at a fraction of the cost of traditional antibody platforms.

“We are very appreciative of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s vote of confidence in our research progress and in the utilization of Lumen’s unique biotech platform’s ability to provide new therapeutics at much lower cost than traditional methods,” said Brian Finrow, Lumen CEO and co-founder. “The new funds will allow us to test these antibodies in a broader range of disease models and to refine antibody expression inside our Spirulina platform, which can ultimately provide much needed therapeutics for this unmet global need.”

Almost 800,000 children under five die every year from diarrheal diseases according to the Centers for Disease Control. Even when not fatal, recent research has shown that colonization of the gut by pathogenic bacteria can result in a skewed microbiome, and has been linked to a variety long-term health impacts, including malnutrition and weakened immune responses to vaccines for other childhood diseases. Natural colostrum, an early form of human breast milk, contributes to infant health in part by providing antimicrobial substances such as antibodies that protect against common intestinal pathogens, but this protection is often insufficient in the developing world. 

Lumen’s Spirulina production and delivery technology has been garnering broader recognition for its potential for addressing unmet needs in human and animal health. In May, Lumen announced a grant from the NIH to continue development of its malaria vaccine, and Lumen recently announced a grant from the USDA to support development of an oral vaccine against IHNV for farmed trout and salmon, in each case leveraging the same proprietary Spirulina technology platform.

The global market for human gastrointestinal drugs is forecast to reach $48.4 billion by 2022 according to GBI Research.

About Lumen

Lumen Bioscience is the first company to successfully use modern biotechnology tools in Spirulina, a blue-green algae that is widely grown for use in food, cosmetics and nutritional supplements. Lumen’s tools and methods use Spirulina to make high-value proteins and other molecules for healthcare, food, cosmetics and industry. Traditional biotech platforms, many based on yeast and E. coli, have proven unsuitable for the large-scale production of certain classes of proteins and other biologics. Lumen’s Spirulina technology provides an important new production platform for the biotechnology industry. For more information about Lumen please visit our website:


Opus Biotech Communications
Dan Eramian, +1-425-306-8716



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