Harvard University Professor Turned Biotech Master Banks $18 Million for Startup WaVe Lifesciences
Published: Feb 04, 2015
February 2, 2015
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
BOSTON – WaVe Life Sciences secured $18 million in funding to advance the company’s development of stereopure nucleic acid therapeutics, including antisense and exon-skipping drug candidates, which are being developed to treat diseases across multiple therapeutic areas.
Nucleic acid therapies are part of the next generation of medications that “promise to broadly and fundamentally improve the treatment of human disease,” said Paul Bolno, CEO of WaVe Life Sciences. WaVe was founded on the principle that medicines should possess precisely controlled molecular structures. The company touts that its production platform which targets microRNA strands enables “programmable control over the structure of the drug product during its synthesis, affording precisely tailored drug molecules designed to possess optimized pharmacokinetic and therapeutic properties.”
WaVe’s technology directs cellular machinery to disable mRNA through cleavage at defined, predetermined sites, which enables targeting of specific disease-causing genetic variants, known as alleles. It offers a new modality for treating diseases resulting from allelic variation, what WaVE officials call a “major unsolved problem in personalized medicine and an area of particularly high unmet medical need.”
“At WaVe, we have shown that single drug products demonstrate superior pharmaceutical properties, and we have developed the capability to design, synthesize and advance these superior products for a broad range of disease indications,” Bolno said. “Our chemistry intersects with all the major classes of nucleic acid therapeutics currently being developed, from antisense to siRNA to mRNA and microRNA, and we therefore anticipate having a broad and deep impact on the ability of the entire field to reach its full potential.”
WaVe secured research funding with assistance from RA Capital Management, LLC and Kagoshima Shinsangyo Sosei Investment LP.
WaVe is a Boston- and Japan-based startup that was formed out of the merger of two small companies: Boston’s Ontorii, and Chiralgen of Japan. WaVe maintains R&D facilities in Boston and Japan and was founded by two world-renowned scientific leaders, Gregory Verdine, a Harvard University professor, and Takeshi Wada, a professor at Tokyo University of Science. Verdine has served as the Erving Professor of Chemistry in the Harvard University Departments of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and Molecular and Cellular Biology for more than 25 years. Verdine has co-founded a number of biotech companies, including Warp Drive Bio, Enanta Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Gloucester Pharmaceuticals, Aileron Therapeutics, Tokai Pharmaceuticals , Eleven Biotherapeutics , and Ontorii Pharmaceuticals which is part of the base of WaVe.