VC Daily: Expansion Therapeutics secures $ 80 million for drugs targeting RNA

Good day. Biotech startup Expansion Therapeutics Inc. has raised $ 80 million to research oral drugs that have a significant impact on neurodegenerative diseases.

Traditionally, drugs have targeted disease proteins. Boston-based expansion and other companies are also developing drugs targeting RNA involved in the production of disease proteins.

Tegsedi of Ionis Pharmaceuticals Inc., for example, treats patients with nerve damage due to inherited ATTR amyloidosis, a condition in which the body produces a mutant form of the TTR protein. Tegsedi, which is injected, targets RNA to reduce the production of TTR protein, according to Ionis.

Expansion is developing small molecule drugs targeting RNA for diseases with few treatment options. They include myotonic dystrophy type 1, a disease affecting muscle, heart and brain functions; motor disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia, a severe form of dementia; and tauopathies, or brain disorders marked by an overabundance of certain forms of the tau protein.

By going upstream of proteins and targeting RNA, Expansion hopes to have a profound impact on these diseases, said CEO Renato Skerlj. Expansion, which has raised this Series B funding from Cormorant Asset Management, and others, plans to use the new capital to advance its platform and move its initial drugs to clinical trials.

And now for the news …

Top news

Blood storage technology. Hemanext Inc. secured new venture capital funding before seeking regulatory clearance in the United States for a medical device designed to improve blood storage and help patients who rely heavily on donated blood.

Hemanext raised $ 15 million in new funding and has now raised a total of over $ 100 million.

Donated blood is widely used in medical care, including the treatment of traumatic injuries and patients with blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia. Hospitals’ blood needs are increasing as they catch up with surgeries in the wake of delays related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hemanext aims to improve the blood supply by increasing the quality of stored red blood cells. This could lead to benefits such as less frequent blood transfusions for patients. The company plans to study its technology in various types of patients, including those with burns, sickle cell anemia and blood cancers known as myelodysplastic syndromes.

“We still live in a state of worry as to whether or not we will have the supply to meet the demands. [needs] of every American. ”

– Biree Andemariam, professor of medicine at UConn Health and clinical advisor at Hemanext, referring to the country’s donated blood supply

More VC News

Alternative Milk Company’s Perfect Day Raises $ 350 Million

Perfect Day Inc. has raised $ 350 million in a late stage funding round, valuing the non-animal dairy startup at around $ 1.5 billion and paving the way for an initial public offering, reports the Wall Street Journal. Singapore’s Temasek and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board led the California-based company’s Series D funding round, co-founders Ryan Pandya and Perumal Gandhi told The Wall Street Journal. Other investors include Walt Disney Co. executive chairman Robert Iger. Since its inception in 2014, Perfect Day, which uses fermentation technology to produce animal-free dairy proteins and has actor Leonardo DiCaprio as an advisor, has raised $ 750 million.

Industry News


Vensana Capital, a venture capital and private equity firm focused on medical technology, closed its second fund at its cap of $ 325 million. Vensana Capital II LP will continue to support startups in medical devices, diagnostics and data science, life science tools, digital health and technology services. With offices in Minneapolis and Vienna, Virginia, Vensana Capital raised $ 225 million for its first fund two years ago.

Hadean Ventures kept the first close of its second fund at 90 million euros ($ 104 million) to continue investing in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical diagnostics and digital health startups, primarily in Europe. The new fund is supported by more than 30 sponsors, including OPF, Saminvest, Argentum and Investinor. Hadean Ventures has offices in Oslo and Stockholm.


BioAdvance, which makes early investments in life sciences in the Mid-Atlantic region, said Shahram Hejazi has been appointed chief executive and chief executive officer, replacing Barbara Schilberg, who is retiring after nearly 20 years in this position. Prior to joining BioAdvance, Mr. Hejazi was President of the Life Sciences Division of Kodak (later known as Carestream Molecular Imaging) and CEO of Zargis Medical Corp.

Cleerly Inc., a heart disease care provider, has appointed Brandon Atkinson as COO and Nick Nieslanik as CTO. Mr. Atkinson was until recently Managing Director of 46 Summits Consulting. Mr. Nieslanik was Vice President of Engineering at Teladoc Health. Earlier this year, Cleerly raised $ 43 million Series B from investors such as Vensana Capital, LRVHealth, New Leaf Venture Partners, DigiTx Partners and Cigna Ventures.

Lumeon healthcare automation platform has appointed Breht Feigh as CFO. He was until recently CFO of Press Ganey Associates. Lumeon is based in Boston and London and is backed by investors such as Optum Ventures, Endeavor Vision, LSP and Amadeus Capital Partners.


Kipu, a technology partner for mental health and addiction service providers, has acquired Avea Solutions, whose software helps treatment centers streamline billing. The terms were not disclosed. TCV counts Miami-based Kipu in its portfolio.

New money

Elligo Health Research Inc., an Austin, Texas-based startup that provides medical practices with technologies and services to help them participate in clinical trials, has completed a $ 135 million Series E cycle. Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital and Ally Bridge Group led the investment, which included participation from Norwest Venture Partners, Cerner, Hatteras Venture Partners, Noro-Moseley Partners, Piper Sandler Merchant Banking, Shumway Capital and Syneos Health. Along with the funding, Elligo Health Research acquired ClinEdge for an undisclosed amount. Melissa Daniels, Managing Director and General Partner of Morgan Stanley Expansion Capital, has joined Elligo’s Board of Directors.

Wayspring, a Nashville, Tennessee-based substance use disorder care provider formerly known as axialHealthcare, has secured a $ 75 million investment. Valtruis, a new value-based care holding company from Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe, led the round. Centene Corp., CareSource, HLM Venture Partners, Highmark Ventures, .406 Ventures, Blue Venture Fund and Oak HC / FT also participated in the financing.

Anji Pharma, a biotechnology company based in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Shanghai, has secured $ 70 million in Series B funding from CR Capital. The company’s clinical pipeline includes a provider of glucose management in patients with type 2 diabetes and advanced chronic kidney disease, as well as treatment for functional constipation.

Lifebit Biotech Ltd., a biomedical data provider with offices in London, San Francisco and Hong Kong, raised $ 60 million in Series B funding. Tiger Global Management led the round, which included participation from Eurazeo, Pentech Ventures and Beacon Capital.

Stellar Health, a New York-based startup whose technology enables primary care providers to provide patients with real-time notifications and call-to-action, has secured more than $ 60 million in Series B funding. General Atlantic led the round, which included additional support from Point72 Ventures, Primary Venture Partners and others.

MFine, an Indian digital health startup, landed $ 48 million in Series C funding. Moore Strategic Ventures and Beenext co-led the round, which included contributions from Stellaris Venture Partners, SBI Holdings, Heritas Capital, Prime Venture Partners and Alteria Capital.

Wider Circle, a Redwood City, Calif.-based startup that works with health plans to deliver hyper-local care programs that connect neighbors for better health, landed a $ 38 million Series B round . Lead investor AmeriHealth Caritas has been joined by Blue Venture Fund, Chicago Ventures and others in new funding.

NovaSignal Corp., a Los Angeles-based startup specializing in brain health assessment and management, closed a $ 37 million Series C1 funding round led by Alpha Edison and Reimagined Ventures.

Kytopen Corp., a Cambridge, Mass.-Based provider of scalable technology for modified cell therapies, raised $ 30 million in an oversubscribed Series A funding round. Northpond Ventures led the investment, which saw participation from Engine, Horizon Ventures, Mass Ventures and others. Adam Wieschhaus from Northpond and Theresa Tribble from Engine will join the board.

Vital, an Atlanta-based software provider for hospital emergency departments, landed $ 15 million in Series A funding. Transformation Capital led the round, which included participation from First Round Capital and Threshold Ventures.

Genetika +, a Jerusalem-based and Boston-based startup applying personalized medicine to behavioral health, got a $ 10 million Series A round. GreyBird Ventures led the financing, which included support from Meron Capital, Jumpspeed Ventures and Sapir Venture Partners.

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Around the web

Mass General Brigham will not be offering Biogen’s new Alzheimer’s disease drug. (Boston Globe)

CEOs of the pharmaceutical industry have a major new concern: recruiting and retaining employees. (Terminal News)

The tedious process of training computers to think about medicine. (STAT News)

(MORE FOLLOWING) Dow Jones Newswires

September 30, 2021 at 10:39 am ET (14:39 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2021 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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