Ex-Alnylam Employees Unite to Unlock Breakthrough Gene Therapy Delivery – Raising $193M

Aera Therapeutics has burst onto the scene Thursday, joining forces between an Alynlam vet and a CRISPR big wig to tackle one of the most daunting obstacles in genetic medicine: delivery. This dynamic duo is determined to revolutionize the field of genetic medicine and make delivery a non-issue.

Aera, a biotech startup backed by notable investors ARCH, GV and Lux, is setting its sights on revolutionizing the delivery of genetic medicines, having recently secured $193 million in a combined Series A and B funding round. This injection of capital will help the company in its mission to expand the reach of these medicines and make them more accessible to those that need them.

Aera, a biotech startup backed by major investors ARCH, GV and Lux, just raised an impressive $193 million in a combined Series A and B financing round. Heading up this ambitious venture is Akin Akinc, Ph.D., previously of Alnylam’s oncology unit, and John Maraganore, founding CEO of Alnylam and ARCH venture partner, who will be chairing Aera’s board. Their goal? To solve delivery challenges to expand the reach of genetic medicines.

Feng Zhang, Ph.D., the highly esteemed scientist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), will be a source of great authority in the scientific field.

Founding the revolutionary gene-editing biotech Editas Medicine in 2013, Feng Zhang has since gone on to co-found three more ground-breaking biotechs. His latest venture, Aera, which launched in 2021, is equipped with a revolutionary new genetic medicine delivery platform that was developed in Zhang’s lab. With his cutting-edge research, Zhang is on the forefront of the gene-editing revolution.

Genetic medicines are game-changers in the medical world, offering promising treatments for a wide range of conditions and diseases. Thanks to cutting-edge technologies such as siRNA, ASOs, mRNA, DNA and gene editing, the potential for these medicines is greater than ever before. However, the delivery systems for these treatments remain a major obstacle that needs to be overcome in order for them to reach their full potential.

Current approaches to treating liver diseases are often limited and come with their own bottlenecks and poor accessibility. Delivery of these treatments is limited due to safety and payload constraints, preventing the potential broad application that these medicines could have. Ex vivo manufacturing also presents its own challenges, further limiting the reach of these treatments.

Zhang’s revolutionary protein nanoparticle delivery platform is making waves in the research world! This self-assembling platform forms capsid-like structures, capable of transferring nucleic acid cargo with unprecedented efficiency. In 2021, the team behind this breakthrough published their findings, ushering in a new era of nanotechnology.

Aera is taking a bold step forward in the fight against illness and disease with the licensing of a novel, programmable gene editing platform. By using enzymes of a much more compact size, Aera is confident that it can overcome the packaging and delivery issues that have hindered gene editing efforts in the past.

The company is currently focused on developing the platform and has yet to identify any therapeutic targets. Akinc shared in an e-mail with BioSpace that they are making great strides and looking forward to advancing the platform further.

The team is determined to delve into the world of genetic medicine, carefully examining a variety of modalities and selecting the ones with the highest potential to improve patient outcomes. Their main focus is on maximizing the impact of the applications they prioritize.

Investors have placed their trust in Aera’s leadership and platform, evidenced by the company’s remarkable $193 million raise despite the increasing capital costs. This impressive feat is a testament to the team assembled at Aera, as well as the vision of CEO Zhang.

With the market exhibiting a ‘risk-off’ sentiment, Mike Rice, founding partner of Life Sci Advisors, weighed in on the current environment, noting that caution is the order of the day.

Investors are becoming more discriminating with their money, only rewarding those “higher quality” biotech companies that stand out from the crowd. This means that, unlike in the past, the rising tide won’t lift all boats – only those that truly impress will benefit from the influx of capital.

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