Demo Day and Experiment Update #2
Yesterday was Y Combinator demo day for our Winter 2014 batch. Over 50 startups that went through the Y Combinator program with us presented to a room of the worlds best investors and donors. It was a surreal experience and we are incredibly proud of our fellow batch-mates. This tweet from PG sums up our batch well: “The test of a YC batch is how hard it is to predict the star. By that test this has to be the best batch so far.”
Unfortunately we couldn’t finish all of our experiments in time to present yesterday, so we will be presenting at the next demo day in August. In the mean time, we will be sharing our results with you in real-time as we complete our experiments over the next several weeks.
Human Blood Studies
Originally we were planning on executing only one mice experiment to test our vaccine prototype with human blood. We are now conducting 4 experiments in parallel. The first three involve human blood in mice. The fourth experiment involves human blood from two volunteers “vaccinated” in a test tube.
We completed the test tube experiments last Thursday. The first subject’s blood sample had very high negative control signal (essentially “noise”) and was un-interpretable. For our second test tube subject, we got statistically significant data that shows we were able to suppress HIV in laboratory-infected cells. This result is encouraging but requires confirmation. We are iterating on the design of the test tube “vaccination” experiment based on what we’ve learned so far and will be repeating this experiment to see if we can consistently produce the same result.
Our mice experiments so far have been disappointing. The first two of our mouse experiments failed due to complications with the mouse model. The first group of 16 mice failed to fully integrate the transfused human blood cells. The second group of 14 mice even more dramatically rejected the human blood cells, resulting in no usable data.
Our third mouse experiment also involves 14 mice. We found these mice with the generous help of Science Exchange (YC S11). These mice have more human immune system components in them so assuming we don’t run into complications we are interested to see the results from this experiment. We are beginning to process post-vaccination blood samples from these mice this week and should have preliminary results next week.
We are learning a lot, iterating rapidly and making great progress. Thank you for taking this journey with us. None of this would be possible without your incredible support.