Cambridge biotech startup Visterra Inc., formerly known as Parasol Therapeutics, has landed $6 million in its first round of funding, backed by Flagship Ventures, Lux Capital and Polaris Venture Partners. The news accompanies an announcement of the launch of Visterra Singapore Pte. Ltd. from Visterra, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) Center and the National Research Foundation of Singapore.
Visterra develops technology to “interrogate how pathogens interact with human cells,” which is used to develop diagnostics, vaccines and therapeutics, according to a news release from Visterra. The company licenses the technology from MIT’s Edward Hood Taplin professor of biological engineering and health sciences & technology Ram Sasisekharan, who also serves as an investigator at the Infectious Disease Interdisciplinary Research Group at SMART.
The new spinout, Visterra Singapore, was created to develop treatments, diagnostics and vaccines for infectious diseases, like influenza and dengue fever. The SMART center was opened as a way to generate entrepreneurial activity, similar to that generated in Cambridge, the news release indicates. SMART is divided into four research groups: BioSystems and Micromechanics (BioSym), Centre for Environmental Sensing and Modelling (CENSAM), Future Urban Mobility (FM) and Infectious Disease (ID).
Visterra launched in 2007 as Parasol Therapeutics, founded by Sasisekharan, Polaris Ventures principal Kevin Bitterman and Polaris partner Alan Crane.