RARE Daily

Aera Therapeutics Launches with $193 Million to Advance the Next Generation Genetic Medicines

February 16, 2023

Rare Daily Staff

Aera Therapeutics launched with $193 million to harness its proprietary delivery platform to unlock the potential of genetic medicines across a wide range of modalities and therapeutic areas.

Aera’s delivery platform is designed to address the limitations of today’s delivery technologies in order to more broadly enable new genetic medicines and is based on research conducted in the laboratory of scientific founder Feng Zhang, core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, McGovern Institute investigator, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

“Genetic medicines—comprising both a payload and a delivery system—are powerful modalities with wide-ranging therapeutic applications for the treatment of human disease; however, the advancement of delivery technologies has lagged the rapid evolution of payload technologies, limiting the broad application of genetic medicines,” said Akin Akinc, CEO of Aera. “Challenges remain with current delivery approaches, and genetic medicines applications have been generally restricted to the liver and ex vivo settings. Aera’s goal is to change this. With access to enabling delivery and payload technology, we aim to expand the reach of genetic medicines to different tissues and applications to benefit more patients across more disease areas.”

Aera’s proprietary protein nanoparticle (PNP) genetic medicine delivery platform leverages the discovery of endogenous, human proteins derived from retroelements that can self-assemble to form capsid-like structures and which can package and transfer nucleic acid cargo. This platform combines the benefits of an endogenous, self-assembling system with the engineerability of a protein-based system and has the potential to enable the delivery of various genetic medicine modalities.

Aera’s technology also includes a licensed therapeutic enzyme platform based on the discovery of novel, compact, and programmable gene editing enzymes. The compact size of these enzymes may help overcome the packaging and delivery challenges of current gene editor systems.

ARCH Venture Partners, GV, and Lux Capital co-led the $193 million combined series A and B financings.

Aera’s founding leadership and board of directors includes Akin Akinc, CEO and board member; John Maraganore, board chair and former founding CEO, Alnylam, Robert Nelsen, board member and managing director, ARCH Venture Partners; Issi Rozen, board observer and venture partner, GV; Vicki Sato, board member and former president, Vertex Pharmaceuticals; David Schenkein, board member and general partner, GV; and Josh Wolfe, board member, co-founder, and managing partner, Lux Capital

“We have long understood the potential of genetic medicines—which includes modalities such as RNAi, mRNA, gene therapy and gene editing—to revolutionize the way we treat disease. However, delivery challenges remain, and have yet to be overcome to realize the full promise of these potentially transformative therapies,” said John Maraganore, board chair of Aera. “Aera’s endogenous human PNP platform represents an exciting new approach for the delivery of genetic medicines.”

Photo: Akin Akinc, CEO of Aera

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