Kristin Jensen, BioPharma Dive
Ring Therapeutics, a startup developing a new method to deliver gene therapy products, has raised $117 million in a Series B financing.
The startup creator that formed Moderna, Flagship Pioneering, is also the founding investor for Ring. Flagship participated in the Series B round alongside other firms including Invus, Altitude Life Science Ventures, Partners Investment and UPMC Enterprises.
Ring said it will use the money to advance gene therapies that harness harmless anelloviruses present in the human body. The company says it has thousands of candidates for anello-based vectors that can be used to deliver therapies, though its work remains in early stages.
With Ring, Flagship is looking for another breakout star in the biotech world. The firm has invested in dozens of biopharmaceutical companies, but is best known for being the driving force behind coronavirus vaccine maker Moderna.
Ring says its Anellogy vector platform has the potential to overcome some of the limitations of current gene therapies. A key one — seen with the commonly used adeno-associated virus vectors — is the potential for a patient’s body to develop an immune response that makes a second dose impossible and may cause the effects of treatment to fade.
Anelloviruses don’t appear to spark the same response, allowing the therapy to work unhampered by the body’s disease-fighting defenses. Ring says the technology creates the potential for re-dosing and could be applied to many different diseases with multiple methods of administration.
Ring isn’t alone in trying to rethink gene therapy. Roche last year signed a deal with startup Dyno Therapeutics, which uses artificial intelligence to design capsids, or viral shells, to deliver tailored gene therapies. Generation Bio, Affinia Therapeutics, StrideBio and Taysha Gene Therapies are also looking for ways to overcome issues that have held back existing treatments.
Investors have shown an appetite for such innovations. Companies developing cell-, gene- and tissue-based therapies pulled in almost $20 billion in funding last year, easily eclipsing the previous record of $13.5 billion set in 2018.
Flagship alone raised more than $2 billion in a matter of months to add to a fund that supports new companies. The firm estimated the fund would have enough cash to finance as many as 25 companies.