Sphinxion Wins $100K Award from QB3 Mentoring Program to Develop Kidney Disease Gene Therapy

Sphinxion co-founder and CEO Dr. Julie Saba speaks recently at the California Life Sciences Innovation Showcase, hosted at Bakar Labs.

Applications for the next cohort of our mentoring program will be taken through Friday, August 16. Learn more

Congratulations to Dr. Julie Saba and Biren Shah, co-founders of Sphinxion, which has been awarded a $100K grant following the recent pitch session in the QB3 mentoring program!

Sphinxion, which joined the program in February, is developing a gene therapy for SPLIS, an ultra-rare genetic condition in which newborns lack a crucial enzyme, Sgpl1. Without this enzyme, the children develop a range of symptoms including severe kidney disease. Dr. Saba, a professor of pediatrics at UCSF, is exploring Sphinxion’s therapy in a mouse model, in which she is delivering a replacement gene to the kidney. Translated to humans, this therapy could enable children with SPLIS to live more normal lives.

Should the gene therapy prove successful, Saba and Shah are also looking forward to applying it to chronic kidney disease, which afflicts millions of patients in the US. In CKD and other “fibrotic” diseases, boosting Sgpl1 function would reduce the buildup of molecules that cause tissues to stiffen and harden — preventing the formation of scar tissue that impairs the function of organs such as kidney, liver, and heart.

“Out of all our many biotech start-up mentors,” Dr. Saba says, “Our QB3 mentor Melissa Kotterman has been by far the most valuable and committed to our success. She was the one person we invited to join our company, and we are thrilled that she has agreed. The QB3 prize money will be instrumental in allowing us to complete a pivotal proof-of-concept study in a timely fashion, accelerating our path forward.”

The QB3 mentoring program takes applications quarterly. The next deadline is Friday, August 16. Learn more