CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—(BUSINESS WIRE)—Concerto Biosciences, a biotechnology company designing microbial communities that restore deficient microbiomes to treat disease, announced today that it raised $23 million in a Series A funding round led by Safar Partners and joined by Horizons Ventures and M Ventures (the corporate venture capital arm of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany), among others. Representatives from Safar Partners and M Ventures will join the company’s board of directors.
Concerto will use the investment to advance its first product through first-in-human studies, accelerate its discovery platform, and leverage the platform to expand its line of products in partnership with other companies. The company’s first microbial product, “Ensemble No.2” (ENS-002), is designed to rehabilitate the skin microbiome. By taming the pathogenic behaviors of Staphylococcus aureus, ENS-002 may decrease the frequency and severity of eczema flares.
Concerto’s foundational discovery platform, kChip, allows for rapid phenotypic screening of combinations of microbes to identify microbial “ensembles”—optimally performing combinations. A kChip prototype was invented by Dr. Jared Kehe, Dr. Cheri Ackerman and others at MIT and the Broad Institute and licensed by Concerto after Kehe, Ackerman, and Dr. Bernardo Cervantes cofounded the company in 2020.
Concerto aspires to reinvent the way humanity interacts with microbes. “Every plant, animal, and human being hosts a thriving ecosystem of microbes vital to its health,” said Kehe, Chief Scientific Officer of Concerto. “Instead of routinely killing these ecosystems with antibiotics and sanitizers, what if we harnessed their health-conferring capabilities? Could we, as rigorous engineers, orchestrate the microbial performances in and around us?”
Ackerman, Kehe, and Cervantes developed Concerto’s vision based on a shared passion for unearthing the secrets of microbial ecology. Beyond their initial work to address skin illness with microbes, the Concerto team is expanding kChip’s scale and capabilities to address a broader range of issues rooted in dysfunctioning microbial ecosystems. To maximize its impact, Concerto will collaborate with biotech and pharma companies to discover a suite of ensembles that could transform industries as diverse as healthcare, agriculture, and household products.
“Concerto’s unique knowledge of the interplay among microbes catapults our whole industry toward a frontier of new products spanning disease treatment, consumer goods, and crop science,” said Ackerman, CEO of Concerto. “With support from new investors and board members, we’re poised to make major strides into this frontier.”
Dr. Sarah Luppino of M Ventures added, “As the corporate venture capital arm of a multi-business group which includes healthcare and life sciences tools, we at M Ventures understand the tremendous impact that the microbiome has on various aspects of our daily lives. Concerto’s platform is unique in its flexibility to support discovery programs across so many sectors in healthcare and beyond.”
“Concerto Biosciences’ platform has the potential to improve how we understand the microbial ecosystems that live in, on and around us, and allow us to change how we heal both our bodies and our planet,” said Dr. Vera Schroeder of Safar Partners. “We believe that Concerto’s approach and its kChip platform have the potential to help us harness the power that can be found within the microbial world.”
In addition to Schroeder and Luppino, the board will include two observers: Vinit Nijhawan, Managing Director of MassVentures, and Dr. Laura Davis of Golden Seeds.