Rare Daily Staff

Haya Therapeutics, a company developing precision medicines that target tissue and cell-specific long non-coding RNAs, said it closed a $20 million (CHF 18 million) seed round to advance its pipeline targeting anti-fibrotics for many tissues.

Broadview Ventures led the financing, with participation from Apollo Health Ventures, Bernina BioInvest, 4See Ventures, Schroder Adveq, and Viva BioInnovator.

Founded and led by a team of experts in long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) biology and fibrotic disease, Haya will use the funds from the financing to advance the discovery and development of innovative organ and cell-selective therapeutics that target lncRNAs to treat and potentially reverse fibrosis and other serious medical conditions related to aging.

The company says its proprietary DiscoverHAYA drug discovery engine enables the generation of a pipeline of lncRNA targeting key tissue and cell-specific drivers of fibrosis for many tissues, including lung, kidney, liver, and the tumor microenvironment. Haya’s lead therapeutic candidate is an antisense oligonucleotide targeting the lncRNA Wisper, a cardiac fibroblast-enriched lncRNA, for the treatment of non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

“Haya was founded to address the major burden of fibrotic diseases and has made tremendous progress over the last several years deciphering the roles of lncRNAs, a new class of regulatory molecules derived from the ‘dark matter’ of the human genome,” said Samir Ounzain, co-founder and CEO of Haya Therapeutics.

Preclinical research conducted by Ounzain and colleagues at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) in Switzerland demonstrated the ability of Haya’s lead program to halt and potentially reverse fibrosis in the heart. Haya is preparing to initiate clinical trials with its Wisper targeting candidate in non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an orphan indication with limited treatment options. The company secured an exclusive license from CHUV for the Wisper asset.

HAYA also announced that Robert Williamson will join the company as executive chair to the Board of Directors. Additionally, Jens Eckstein, managing partner at Apollo Health Ventures, and Benjamin Kreitman of Broadview Ventures will join Haya’s board. Ounzain and Daniel Blessing, co-founder and chief technology officer of Haya Therapeutics, are also board members. 

“Haya Therapeutics is developing uniquely tissue- and context-specific genetic medicines for the prevention and reversal of fibrotic diseases,” said Williamson, who is also president and CEO at BioTheryX. “We aim to leverage our novel biological insights into the roles of lncRNA to identify and inhibit organ-specific master regulators of myofibroblasts. This groundbreaking approach promises to generate potent, selective, engineered therapeutics that are safer and more effective than medicines currently in development for the treatment of challenging fibrotic diseases.”

Photo: Samir Ounzain, co-founder and CEO of Haya Therapeutics.

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