Excited to announce our seed investment in Teiko.bio, which calculates an immune fingerprint for each person. Tau Ventures is an AI-first fund in Silicon Valley investing primarily in mature seed, typically when there is a pipeline of customers, but we occasionally take earlier or later bets when we see immense promise. Teiko falls on that first exception, having been just founded at the end of 2020, but impressing us with (1) addressing a strong need, (2) building an execution-focused team, and (3) creating a differentiated product.
1) The Need
Helping design more immune-specific clinical trials and therapies is in many ways the holy grail of personalized medicine. The company is fundamentally grounded on the view that the blood matters for immunotherapy response. For instance, a lot of the thinking in the field has historically focused on the tumor. This idea of targeting blood is now increasingly established in the field and has been validated by many other labs. What Teiko is doing a step further is showing what configurations of your immune system, as measured in blood, are likely to predict response. Below is a snapshot around cancer — the company’s vision is that by personalizing treatment you can reduce costs and improve outcomes.
2) The Team
CEO / cofounder Ramji Srinivasan was previously CEO / cofounder of Counsyl for 10 years, eventually selling to Myriad Health for $375M. He has too many Stanford affiliations having enrolled in the MBA and MS in Biomedical Informatics programs (and dropped out to build Counsyl) and before that done a MS and BS there. Cofounder Matt Spitzer is currently an Assistant Professor at UCSF, holding a PhD in Immunology. The team is rounded off by another PhD expert in flow cytometry, a Stanford MBA who placed silver in the Rio Paralympics, and a Stanford Immunology graduate from the Bollyky Lab.
3) The Product
Teiko’s core product is a TokuProfile built on the analysis of your blood cells. Using rapid on-site computing and a panel of 35+ markers they create a curated summary and a sheet of recommendation for each person. The idea is to discover what works for each person so we can guide treatment best — imagine personalized cancer therapies. For a deeper discussion of the science check out teiko.bio/publications. There are also several dozen signatures in the public domain, for instance https://www.nature.com/articles/s43018-019-0022-x, and a paper from Matt’s lab laying out a blueprint for immune monitoring of clinical trials: https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/fulltext/S2211-1247(19)30822-8:
We are honored and excited to be part of Teiko’s journey, using technology to solve a big problem. More at https://teiko.bio.
Originally published on “Data Driven Investor,” am happy to syndicate on other platforms. I am the Managing Partner and Cofounder of Tau Ventures with 20 years in Silicon Valley across corporates, own startup, and VC funds. These are purposely short articles focused on practical insights (I call it gl;dr — good length; did read). Many of my writings are at https://www.linkedin.com/in/amgarg/detail/recent-activity/posts and I would be stoked if they get people interested enough in a topic to explore in further depth. If this article had useful insights for you comment away and/or give a like on the article and on the Tau Ventures’ LinkedIn page, with due thanks for supporting our work. All opinions expressed here are my own.