ShapeTX Earns $112 Million Series B to Support Gene Therapy Development Projects
Seattle biotechnology firm Shape Therapeutics has announced that it generated $112 million from a recent Series B financing round it co-led with Decheng Capital and Breton Capital. The amount is intended to support the company's growing portfolio of RNA technologies and accelerate efforts to develop various treatment approaches in the gene therapy field.
Shape has developed a suite of platforms that broadly enable RNA targeting, editing, and replacement for patients who have been diagnosed with genetic disorders and have a high unmet need. The news comes on the heels of its discovery of next-generation adeno associated viruses (AAVs), which are specific to muscles and the central nervous systems in non-human primates.
From this breakthrough, Shape developed a human-stable cell line technology for AAV production that outperforms standard expression methods, intending to apply these to research activities for various treatments for genetic diseases. The Shape AAVid capsid discovery platform can screen billions of engineered AAV variants directly in NHP. It also uses artificial intelligence-driven bioinformatics to identify the features that influence tissue tropism and to accelerate the creation of higher-level gene therapies.
"We have witnessed the power of mRNA in the vaccine space and are now entering a new era where we can apply next-generation RNA technologies to potentially prevent or treat complex diseases across a wide range of therapeutic areas, such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency and Rett syndrome," said Francois Vigneault, Ph.D., the co-founder and chief executive officer of Shape, in a statement.
At the 24th annual meeting of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy conducted in May 2021, Shape, alongside the AAV discovery, also presented its RNAfix -HTS platform, which can generate and scan large libraries of guide RNAs with a wide range of predicted and natural secondary structures to promote endogenous ADAR editing. The company has been pursuing RNA editing technology for quite a while now, and in January, highlighted the method for its potential to contribute significantly to the advancement of therapies for Parkinson's Disease.
"We are thrilled to support Shape's in realizing the full potential of RNA technologies to truly transform the gene therapy industry. We have been incredibly impressed with Shape's technology, leadership, and vision of continuous innovation with a focus on developing industry partnerships that shorten the development timeline for these potentially life-changing medicines," commented Min Cui, Ph.D., founder and managing director at Decheng Capital.
Decheng Capital is an investment firm that provides capital and support to early-stage life sciences companies with revolutionary technologies and growth-stage healthcare firms with a strong market presence.
Shape's proprietary RNA technologies utilize machinery that's already present in human cells to efficiently and safely correct genetic mutations while keeping immunogenicity and DNA damage to a minimum to zero. This effort is meant to provide safer therapies that work with the human body and not against it.