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Just Biotherapeutics CEO and Founding Partner Jim Thomas
Just Biotherapeutics CEO and Founding Partner Jim Thomas

Seattle-based Just Biotherapeutics said Monday it closed a $14 million funding round led by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

A group of former Amgen scientists founded Just in 2014. The company focuses on technological innovations to reduce the cost of producing protein therapeutics and make them more accessible worldwide. That includes everything from developing therapeutic molecules to designing the manufacturing plants used to produce them.

Jim Thomas, CEO and founding partner of Just, said in a statement the company will use the funds to finish building out its Seattle lab space and add pilot plant and Good Manufacturing Practices capabilities. The money will also allow Just to test low-cost treatments for infectious diseases that affect the world’s poorest populations.

The Gates Foundation is contributing $8 million, and previous investors Merck, Lilly Asia Ventures and ARCH Venture Partners are putting in $2 million a piece.

The Gates Foundation previously awarded Just a four-year grant for up to $24 million to work on reducing the cost of monoclonal antibodies, which are laboratory-produced molecules increasingly found in cancer drugs that attach to defective cells. The research also includes developing low-cost anti-HIV antibodies.

Just previously closed a $15 million funding round led by Merck, Lilly Asia and ARCH. That funding supported development of a “novel technology platform for biologic medicines,” the company said.

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