Follow the Money: Recombinase Platform Unlocks Full Potential of Gene Editing, Lead Drug Candidate Clears Neurodegenerative Toxins, More

March 28, 2023

March 28, 2023 | Funding pipeline advancement of first-in-class extracellular protein degraders, a proteomics AI-based platform that comprehensively maps the course of a disease, a proprietary computational antibody drug discovery platform that uses machine learning to model antibody-antigen interactions, and more. 

$75M: Seed Funding for First-in-Class Extracellular Protein Degradation Pipeline 

Avilar Therapeutics announced it had raised additional funding with an expanded syndicate of new investors to support advancing a pipeline of first-in-class extracellular protein degraders. The new financing is an upsize to $75 million of the seed round with initial funding from Avilar’s founding investor, RA Capital Management. It now includes participation by new investors Sanofi Ventures, Medical Excellence Capital, and Astellas Venture Management. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance multiple pipeline programs targeting extracellular proteins known to be involved in the pathogenesis of autoimmune, neurological, and other diseases yet remain poorly addressed by currently available approaches. 

$50M: Series A Financing for Next-Generation Protein Degradation Platform 

EpiBiologics launched this month with $50 million in Series A funding. The company’s proprietary EpiTAC platform expands the targeted protein degradation landscape to the extracellular space, enabling the company to target both membrane and secreted proteins through genetically encoded bifunctional antibodies. EpiBiologics has expanded the platform and built an atlas of tissue-specific degrader antibodies to target proteins for new treatments for various diseases, including cancer, immunology, and neuro-related conditions. To strengthen its leadership and support its expansion, EpiBiologics also announced the appointment of Shyra Gardai as its incoming chief scientific officer. Dr. Gardai has recently served as vice president of therapeutic discovery research at Seagen. 

$30M: Series A Financing for Neurodegenerative Disease Drug Candidate 

The Aarhus-based company Teitur Trophics has received €28M Series A financing to develop drugs to slow down brain disorders such as Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, and frontotemporal dementia. Teitur Trophics, a spin-out from Aarhus University, is dedicated to developing new treatments for patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. The lead drug candidate, TT-P34, works by clearing toxic protein deposits, restoring the function of mitochondria in affected brain cells, and promoting pro-survival signaling. The proceeds will enable Teitur Trophics to progress its lead drug candidate into clinical development, including a Phase 1b clinical study in neurodegenerative diseases. Teitur Trophics has a license agreement with Aarhus University for the technology behind the company. 

$20M: Series A2 Funding for Advancing Clinical Trial Diversity and Inclusion

Inato announced the close of $20M in Series A2 funding from existing and new investors. The new funding will fuel Inato’s continued product innovation, international growth, and hiring of top talent. Inato will advance its diverse product offering to enable sponsors to meet their diversity goals based on new FDA requirements strategically. The company will also invest in oncology-specific innovation to increase access to care where, despite the number of oncology studies increasing at almost twice the pace of any other therapeutic area, enrollment rates remain startlingly low. Inato will further define and scale its data model to improve matching reliability between community sites and sponsor trials.

$20M: Series A Financing for AI-Based Life Sciences Procurement 

Labviva announced that it secured $20 million in Series A financing. The Series A funding brings the total amount raised since inception to $30 million. The funding will accelerate the deployment of Labviva’s platform at several global pharmaceutical and academic customers. Labviva provides an easy-to-use SaaS platform and marketplace that unifies the interface for product discovery and procurement and seamlessly connects suppliers and purchasers, allowing scientists to make better purchasing decisions. The company will also use the funding to expand its global footprint and launch new and complementary product lines. Labviva provides a digital marketplace for life science companies and researchers by connecting them with reagents, chemicals, and instrumentation suppliers.

$13M: Series A Financing for AI/ML-Enabled Platform to Predict Patient Response

Genialis raised more than $13 million in Series A financing to transform how diseases are diagnosed and treatment decisions are made. Genialis is developing next-generation patient classifiers using machine learning and high-throughput omics data to capture underlying disease biology and predict how patients will likely respond to targeted therapies. The company will use the funds from Series A to expand its proprietary ResponderID platform and build out its comprehensive collection of clinically validated biomarker models to provide pinpoint diagnoses for virtually every cancer patient. ResponderID can read the status of almost any NGS-based biomarker, including bespoke and proprietary signatures, from a single assay. The resulting output provides clinical and translational researchers with a comprehensive molecular portrait of patient disease phenotype enabling the most informed decision-making possible.

$13M: Funding for Heart Failure Gene Therapy 

The University of Utah and TikkunLev Therapeutics announced a new partnership to accelerate an innovative heart failure gene therapy. The $13M agreement is an exclusive worldwide license and includes a sponsored research program to support future U.S. Food and Drug Administration filings. The discovery of cBIN1, a molecule lost in heart failure, at the U’s Nora Eccles Harrison Cardiovascular Research and Training Institute led to a pursuit of gene therapy to regain the heart’s organization and function. The agreement was facilitated by the university’s Partners for Innovation, Ventures, Outreach & Technology (PIVOT) Center. The U is a burgeoning source of early-stage innovation, and PIVOT Center is often called on to propel these innovations to market. 

$12.5M: Seed Financing for Advanced Transformative Gene Editing Platform 

Seamless Therapeutics announced a €11.8M seed financing round to accelerate further development of its designer recombinases, a novel gene editing platform to transform the treatment of severe diseases. The company’s pioneering recombinase platform can program a widely used and established molecular biology tool to unlock the full potential of gene editing, enabling the targeting of any site within the genome. The proceeds from the round will further advance the company’s proprietary technology platform to build a pipeline of therapeutic candidates towards first-in-human readiness and expand the company’s presence in the EU & US. Recombinases are a class of enzymes that have been widely used in scientific research for decades to modify the genome of model organisms precisely.   

$12M: Additional Seed Funding for Oncology Drug Discovery Pipeline 

Protai announced that it had added $12 million to its seed round, bringing the total amount to $20M. The additional funding will be used to build Protai’s oncology drug discovery pipeline, expand data acquisition, and increase its discovery activities via pharma partnerships. To tap into the potential of protein-level data, Protai has built a proteomics AI-based platform that comprehensively maps the course of a disease on the protein level. Its technology allows it to better predict which patients will respond to a given drug and discover novel targets that genomic approaches miss. With the additional funding, Protai will expand its activities to focus on targets with a clearly defined novel patient population biomarker derived from its AI proteomics platform. 

$10M: Funding for Next-Generation Bioseparation Solutions 

TeraPore Technologies announced it had raised $10M in new financing. TeraPore will leverage the funding to launch its IsoBlock virus filter and expand the use of its core technology into new high-value markets. Unlike conventional filter technology, IsoBlock virus filters leverage TeraPore’s Intelligent Membrane platform, which features a tunable chemical structure and uniform nanoscale pore sizes that can tackle the most difficult separation challenges. The IsoBlock virus filters are highly engineered to provide superior filter productivity and robust viral clearance during process development, clinical trials, and production-scale manufacturing. 

$3M: Funding for Therapeutic Antibody Development 

Antiverse announced the successful identification of functional antibody clusters targeting two G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), displaying versatile binding profiles and nanomolar affinity. The Company also announced that it had raised $3M in funding, enabling in-house development of the antibodies showing the highest affinity blocking function, making them ideal starting points as therapeutic assets. The antibodies were identified using Antiverse’s proprietary computational antibody drug discovery platform, which uses machine learning to model antibody-antigen interactions and design de novo antibodies. GPCRs are a class of cell membrane receptors that play a crucial role in various physiological processes. With over 400 GPCRs linked to over 30 diseases, and only two FDA-approved antibody therapeutics existing for this family of receptors, these assets have significant potential for therapeutic applications. 

$2.7M: Funding for Therapeutic Nucleic Acid Delivery System 

The European Innovation Council (EIC) announced the beneficiaries of EIC Transition projects in the context of the challenge “New RNA-based therapies and diagnostics,” which seeks to advance the transfer of innovative technologies for future commercialization. Of the 181 submitted proposals, only 34 were funded, including TraffikGene, which will now receive €2.5M over three years. The project focuses on developing peptide-based technology to create vehicles that efficiently deliver nucleic acids and ribonucleoproteins with potential therapeutic applications. TraffikGene provides versatile technology that can adapt to all types of nucleic acids or even enable gene editing tasks with ribonucleoproteins through the CRISPR/Cas system. The new EIC support will allow the team behind this project to focus on developing messenger RNA therapies for applications in cancer immunotherapy and explore other possible therapeutic alternatives with different nucleic acids.  

$1M: Grant for Infectious Disease Detector and Breathalyzer 

Noze, formerly Stratuscent, announced a grant of $1 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to build a breathalyzer to detect breath biomarkers (volatile organic compounds). The breathalyzer will enable rapid screening and diagnostics of infectious diseases, such as Malaria and Tuberculosis, impacting millions of people, particularly in developing countries. Exhaled breath offers a revealing picture of a person’s current health due to the efficient exchange that takes place between the blood and the air in the lungs. Various diseases are represented in the breath through their unique metabolic biomarkers, which will now be targeted via Noze’s platform enabling instant, low-cost, and ubiquitous diagnostics. Development of the diagnostic breathalyzer is targeted for completion by the end of 2023, during which a clinical validation phase will follow.  

Undisclosed Series A Extension for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy tRNA-Based Therapy  

hC Bioscience received an investment from CureDuchenne Ventures, a nonprofit committed to finding and funding a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). This investment will come in as an extension of hC Bioscience’s series A and serves as recognition of the potential of the Company’s tRNA-based approach to finding a cure for rare diseases like DMD. In individuals with DMD, mutations in the dystrophin gene result in the absence or significant reduction of functional dystrophin protein, leading to progressive muscle degeneration and weakness. 

Undisclosed Growth Investment Amount for Cloud-First, Unified eClinical Platform 

Thompson Street Capital Partners announced a growth investment in OpenClinica. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. OpenClinica transforms healthcare through innovative cloud technology that simplifies running clinical trials. OpenClinica Unite is a large and fast-growing network of connected health systems that can automatically share electronic health record clinical data for clinical trials, registries, and chart reviews, eliminating painstaking manual data entry and source verification. As a result, hundreds of small, midsize, and large research organizations leverage OpenClinica to capture better clinical data faster in a way that meets the highest security and regulatory compliance (21 CFR Part 11, Annex 11, GDPR, HIPAA) standards.