AmorChem Invests in Groundbreaking RNA Technology
“Recent years have seen a resurgence in the development of tools and therapeutic approaches using nucleotides in general and RNA in particular. Examples of these include antisense molecules, strategies employing mRNA and CRISPR approaches. However, their delivery to the correct subcellular compartment and their retention within the cell still represent some of the biggest challenges faced by the industry. The RNA Zipcodes identified as part of the work accomplished by these three dynamic researchers will be key in optimizing the intracellular delivery process. As a result, they promise to address an increasing need for the industry,” says Kevin McBride, PhD, CSO and Partner at AmorChem.
“This multidisciplinary trio from two Quebec universities is an excellent example of successful inter-institutional co-operation. Dr. Mathieu Blanchette and Dr. Jérôme Waldispühl, at McGill University, are creating a bioinformatics platform able to identify and validate the RNA Zipcodes, short sequences of RNA which, according to the observations and biological analysis of Dr. Éric Lécuyer at the IRCM, would allow for the precise delivery of oligonucleotides and other molecules in the appropriate subcellular compartment or organelle. This would help the therapeutic molecules to maximize their effect on the desired targets,” adds Inès Holzbaur, PhD, Co-founder and Managing Partner at AmorChem.
“Our success is defined by our ability to identify breakthrough technologies and to attract researchers with innovative ideas. It is therefore particularly gratifying for us to finance such a promising and crucial emerging technology through the first university investment in our AmorChem II portfolio. Our intention is to follow our investment strategy by first validating the technology and allowing it to mature sufficiently to become the focus of a start-up company equipped to maximize its success,” explains Elizabeth Douville, PhD, Co-founder and Managing Partner at AmorChem.
“This RNA postal code initiative is an innovative technology of which we are very proud. The collaboration between the various partners will accelerate the implementation of the project and eventually offer patients a new personalized and effective treatment,” add Tarik Möröy, President and Scientific Director of the IRCM and Éric Lécuyer, Director of the RNA Biology Research Unit at the IRCM.
“McGill’s excellent researchers and skilled partnership builders are honored to be working closely with AmorChem II, Univalor and the MCRI to advance this joint research venture,” says Sylvain Coulombe, Associate Vice-Principal, Innovation and Partnerships (I+P), McGill University. “This collaboration will allow all partners to gain a deeper understanding of RNA sequencing with the goal of developing cutting-edge approaches to emerging therapeutics.”
“The involvement of a business partner like AmorChem will accelerate the development of this innovative technology, allowing it to propose improved targeted solutions to answer unmet medical needs. These RNA zipcodes can indeed have a true impact on patients’ health. This partnership demonstrates the importance of the valorisation process in the generation of tangible results that can contribute both an improvement of treatment options and a meaningful economic impact,” says Jacques Simoneau, CEO of Univalor.
AmorChem (www.amorchem.com) is an early-stage, venture capital fund located in Montreal focused on creating promising life science companies from technologies originating primarily from Quebec-based universities and research centres. Launched in 2011, the AmorChem fund model combines access to financial resources with a virtual incubator structure that enables the rapid development and commercialization of its technologies. The first fund (41.2M$) has built a portfolio of 24 technologies and successfully transacted two pharma exits as well as spun-out five companies. The attractiveness of this seed fund model and the role it plays in the investment ecosystem were highlighted in September 2017 with the launch of the AmorChem II Fund, which now totals $53.7M.