Flagship’s Laronde, Senda Form Company Focused on New Class of Medicines

M&A deal_iStock, AmnajKhetsamtip

Pictured: Businessmen shaking hands after closing a deal/iStock, Wasan Tita

Laronde and Senda Biosciences, both launched by life science investment group Flagship Pioneering, merged on Thursday forming a new company called Sail Biomedicines.

Sail will combine Senda’s and Laronde’s platforms to design and advance fully programmable medicines “to transform patient care,” according to Flagship’s announcement. The new company will be led by Senda CEO Guillaume Pfefer, who is also CEO-Partner at Flagship. Moderna alum John Mendlein will serve as Sail’s executive chairman.

“Sail Biomedicines builds on the progress made by two leading Flagship bioplatform companies and will enable integrative design for more effective programmable medicines,” Flagship founder and CEO Noubar Afeyan said in a statement.

Sail will build its candidates using Laronde’s Endless RNA (eRNA), a new class of synthetic and translatable circular RNA that can be programmed to express a wide and diverse range of therapeutic proteins in the human body. According to Laronde’s website, eRNA molecules are stable and can persist for long periods of time without triggering the body’s innate immunity.

Flagship debuted this technology in May 2021, when it launched Laronde with $50 million in seed funding and the aim to “replace or augment” drug modalities currently in use, founding CEO Avak Kahvejian said at the time.

A few months later, Laronde raised $440 million in its Series B financing round, which moved the biotech closer to its goal of building a Gigabase Factory to house its clinical and manufacturing operations.

Sail will package eRNA therapeutics in Senda’s proprietary nanoparticles, which it created using a universal chemical code derived from various co-evolved non-human species. Senda launched in October 2020 with $88 million in cash.

“Endless RNA has the potential to create an entirely new class of programmable medicines across therapeutic areas that we will now be able to deliver directly to cells and tissues via deployment molecules with unique properties to confer specificity and greater tolerability,” Mendlein said in a statement on Thursday, adding that Sail will complement this approach with generative artificial intelligence technologies.

Sail’s launch closes a controversial chapter for Laronde, which had trouble replicating promising preclinical data that contributed heavily to its big Series B raise in 2021, according to reporting by STAT News in June 2023. The incident forced Laronde to discontinue two programs and pushed dozens of employees to resign.

In May 2023, then-CEO Pablo Cagnoni stepped down from his post after serving for only six months at Laronde. Cagnoni moved to Incyte where he became president and head of R&D.

Tristan Manalac is an independent science writer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. He can be reached at tristan@tristanmanalac.com or tristan.manalac@biospace.com.

Back to news