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VESIGEN THERAPEUTICS LAUNCHES WITH $28.5 MILLION INVESTMENT FROM LEAPS BY BAYER AND MORNINGSIDE VENTURES
Source: Bayer news release

Cambridge, MA and Berlin - Vesigen Therapeutics launched today with the objective to overcome the hurdle of targeted intracellular drug delivery of next-generation therapeutics, such as CRISPR-cas9, RNA molecules and other therapeutic proteins, by using a proprietary delivery technology. Leaps by Bayer and Morningside Ventures led the company's Series A financing with USD 28.5 million and were joined by Linden Lake Ventures and Alexandria Venture Investments.

New modalities, such as gene editing, mRNA replacement, and RNA interference, have huge potential for future therapies and even curative treatments. However, delivery of these modalities to target disease in specific cells and tissues has proven difficult.

As more than 80 percent of identified and biologically validated drug targets are located within a human cell, there is a high need for innovative intracellular delivery technology to transport these molecules to the target and unlock the full potential of new therapeutic modalities. Vesigen is developing a novel delivery technology that addresses this hurdle and opens new pathways to transformative treatment options for patients.

"Our mission is to realize the therapeutic potential of many of the new modalities, such as RNA interference, mRNA replacement, and gene editing, that have been used to identify and validate targets, but have proven difficult to translate into functional therapeutics due to delivery barriers," said Robert Millman, Co-Founder and CEO of Vesigen Therapeutics.

Vesigen is developing drugs based on the proprietary ARRDC1-mediated microvesicles (ARMMs) technology, a class of fusogenic extracellular vesicles that nature evolved to package and deliver communication signals between cells and tissues. ARMMs possess unique properties, making them better suited for producing and delivering therapeutic agents. Vesigen and its scientific founders have demonstrated a wide range of therapeutic payloads can be packaged in ARMMs, including RNA, protein, and gene-editing systems and functionally delivered intracellularly in vitro and in vivo.

"Leaps by Bayer is investing in transformative biotechnologies with the ability to move the paradigm from treatment to cure," said Juergen Eckhardt, MD, Head of Leaps by Bayer. "We believe that Vesigen's ARMMs technology has the potential to do exactly that, to help enable new curative treatments in a large spectrum of disease areas."

"Vesigen's engineered extracellular vesicles show versatility and we will be supporting their development in a wide range of indications, including oncology, neurology, ophthalmology, and other localized applications - We look forward to seeing their work translated into a clinical context," said Gerald Chan, Sc.D, Morningside Ventures.

Vesigen will use the capital raised to build out the ARMMs platform as well as to advance numerous therapeutic agents into preclinical and clinical development. With the financing, Vesigen has named Gerald Chan of Morningside Ventures as Chairman, while Stephen Bruso of Morningside Ventures and Juergen Eckhardt and Jak Knowles of Leaps by Bayer have been named to its Board of Directors.

The company's Scientific Advisory Board will include:

Quan Lu, PhD, Scientific Co-Founder, Vesigen Therapeutics
Stephen Haggarty, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital
Thomas Reh, PhD, University of Washington

"We engineered the ARMMs system as a platform capable of delivering several agents into specific tissues or cells that others have been exploring for years," said Quan Lu, PhD, Professor of Environmental Genetics and Physiology at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. "I'm hopeful that our work may enable new therapies that save lives."


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