The two companies are the first tenants in a space that will eventually host up to 35 biotech startups.
A rendering of the BioLabs space at Pegasus Park. The life science co-working space is expected to open in December.
By Ann Gehan
Dallas Morning News
5:45 AM on Oct 29, 2021
Dallas’s Pegasus Park campus is attracting two promising firms as inaugural tenants of its BioLabs life sciences co-working space.
ReCode Therapeutics and Aakha Biologics will be the first two companies in the shared space when it opens in mid-December. BioLabs expects to eventually attract a rotating roster of up to 35 biotechnology and life science startups.
“The commitment by Aakha and ReCode to locate and grow their companies in Dallas is a sign of the region’s strong biotech commercialization potential,” said Dr. Johannes Fruehauf, founder and CEO of BioLabs.
Pegasus Park was developed by Lyda Hill Philanthropies and J. Small Investments, a Dallas real estate firm, to help reverse the trend of departures by North Texas biotech startups for more established industry hubs like Boston and San Francisco. The campus aims to nurture companies at each stage of their development, from initial commercialization efforts to going public.
Hemanta Baruah is founder and CEO of Aakha Biologics, a company working to develop biologics to create therapies for cancer patients. Baruah said his familiarity with Dallas from working at another biotech company helped him feel like it was less of a risk to leave the “mothership” of Boston, where Aakha’s parent company, Alloy Therapeutics, is located.
Baruah hopes to leverage his existing network in the Boston area while growing his company in Dallas.
“All you need for a city to be a hub, in my opinion, is a critical mass of companies,” he said. “That’s what I think will happen over the next few years here.”
ReCode Therapeutics, founded in 2015, was born out of research originally conducted at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. The company is developing nonviral lipid nanoparticles that can deliver drug therapies to a specific organ as a way to treat respiratory diseases such as cystic fibrosis and primary ciliary dyskinesia.
ReCode also has operations in Menlo Park, Calif., as a result of its 2020 merger with TranscripTx, a biotechnology firm working on messenger RNA therapies for pulmonary diseases.
Earlier this month, ReCode secured $80 million in new funding led by venture funds of pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Sanofi. The new capital will help ReCode begin human clinical trials for its primary PCD and cystic fibrosis programs and build a pilot manufacturing site.
“Dallas is a natural place for more of ReCode’s growth, as our original group of founders is based in Dallas, and some of our core investor group is based here as well,” said ReCode CEO David Lockhart in a statement.
BioLabs also announced the appointment of Gabby Everett as its Dallas site director. Everett was formerly lead scientist at NCH Corp., an Irving-based manufacturer and distributor of industrial cleaning, water treatment and plumbing products. She also was responsible for commercial product development and team leadership.
BioLabs offers lab and office space to its tenants, as well as networking and professional development events. To join a BioLabs space, potential members must complete an application and present to the site’s scientific advisory board, which reviews business plans and the science behind a company’s research. It operates nine sites in traditional biotech hubs on the east and west coasts. The Dallas location is its first in the central United States.