hC Bioscience Announces $24 Million Series A Financing to Develop Innovative Pipeline of Protein-Editing Therapies

  • Combining a strong syndicate of investors, seasoned management, and exemplary scientific advisors
  • hC Bioscience is developing a new class of therapy for genetically defined diseases based on more than a decade of foundational research on tRNA.
  • Lead platform centers on engineered tRNAs for human diseases caused by premature termination codons (PTCs)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Feb. 23, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- hC Bioscience, Inc., a drug discovery and development company focused on first-in-class tRNA-based therapeutics targeting protein dysfunction, has closed a Series A financing of $24 million led by a strong syndicate of investors, including ARCH Venture Partners, Takeda Ventures and 8VC.

hC Bio is advancing two complementary platforms. One is directed at restoring protein function when “nonsense mutations,” or premature termination codons (PTCs), cause protein dysfunction, a problem responsible for 10 – 15% of all human disease. This platform, called PTCX (“Patch”), employs tRNA that suppresses such errors in the genetic code to allow the proper full-length protein to be produced.

hC Bio is simultaneously developing a second tRNA-based platform called SWTX (“Switch”) to target diseases caused by missense mutations. This technology is designed to correct for such mutations in proteins that cause disease.

Leslie J. Williams, president and chief executive officer, and Professor Christopher Ahern, from the University of Iowa, founded the company to translate and augment the foundational work performed in the Ahern lab. Chris Ahern and John Lueck (currently Assistant Professor at University of Rochester) identified engineered transfer RNAs for human PTC variants driving disease.

“We are creating medicines to restore protein function to its intended state without editing genes,” said Williams. “A single tRNA therapy has the potential to treat many diseases regardless of the gene or location of the mutation.”

Concurrent with the close of hC Bioscience’s Series A financing, the company has also appointed David Altreuter, Ph.D., as chief technology officer.

Dr. Altreuter brings extensive experience in the design and development of novel drug products where innovative delivery has a central role. An expert in translating discoveries through clinical development, he holds over 40 patents/patent applications and has served in leadership positions at Lyndra Therapeutics, Acusphere, Alnylam, Selecta Biosciences, and Quiet Therapeutics.

hC Bio has also assembled an exemplary Scientific Advisory Board, including Nobel laureate Craig Mello, Ph.D., HHMI investigator and Professor at UMass Medical Center, who will serve as Chairman; Page Bouchard, DVM, Former CSO and Head of Research and Early Development of Novartis Gene Therapies; John DiPersio, MD, Ph.D., Chief of Oncology, Washington University; John Bell, Ph.D., Scientific Director of the National Centre of Excellence for the development of Biotherapeutics for Cancer Therapy, University of Ottawa; Oladapo Yeku, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Oncology, Harvard University; and Jeff Bockman, Ph.D., Head of Oncology Practice, Cello Health; along with John Lueck, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Center for RNA Biology, University of Rochester and Christopher Ahern, Ph.D., Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, University of Iowa.

Dr. Mello notes, “hC Bio’s tRNA-based technology brings to bear an entirely new class of RNA therapeutics to address the ever-growing list of genetically-defined and yet unmet medical needs. To meet these needs, hC Bio will partner with pharma while selecting a few of the most urgent targets to tackle internally.”

hC Bio’s Board of Directors includes Steven Gillis, ARCH Ventures, Sacha Mann, Takeda Ventures, David Moskowitz, 8VC and Leslie Williams, CEO. Dr. Gillis, Chairman of the Board, says, “hC Bio is building the company on strong, foundational IP. We look forward to the team translating its technology into class-leading therapies for patients.”

About hC Bioscience, Inc.
hC Bioscience is dedicated to improving the lives of patients with the development of first-in-class tRNA-based therapeutics targeting protein dysfunction. hC’s innovations in precision protein editing therapies target genetically defined diseases. A single tRNA therapy has the potential to treat many diseases, regardless of the gene or location of the mutation. For more information visit www.hcbioscience.com and follow the company on LinkedIn @hCBioscience.

About ARCH Venture Partners
ARCH Venture Partners invests in advanced technology companies and is one of the world’s leading early-stage technology venture firms. The firm is a recognized leader in commercializing technologies developed at academic institutions, corporate research groups and national laboratories. ARCH invests primarily in companies it co-founds with leading scientists and entrepreneurs, bringing innovations in life sciences and physical sciences to market. For more information, visit www.archventure.com.

About Takeda Ventures
Takeda Ventures, Inc. is the corporate venture capital group of Takeda and was founded in 2001 with the vision of generating disruptive technologies and therapeutic solutions for patients through venture-based partnerships. Their mission is to create strategic growth opportunities for Takeda by building, managing and investing in innovation-based companies. TVI partners with academic innovators, entrepreneurs and venture investors to create and nurture a portfolio of companies in an array of therapeutic areas, including oncology, gastroenterology, neuroscience and rare diseases. For more information visit www.takedaventures.com

About 8VC
8VC is a technology investment firm headquartered in Austin, TX with offices in San Francisco and New York City.  We partner with entrepreneurs to build technology platforms that create long-term economic and societal value.  8VC was built by a team of entrepreneurs, engineers, investors and philosophers who value operating experience and action, as well as new ideas and creative theories.  The partners have a proven track-record as founders of successful companies including Palantir, Addepar, Affinity and OpenGov, among others.  8VC was founded in 2011 and manages several billion dollars in committed capital.  We invest primarily in smart enterprise platforms across industries including financial services, healthcare, logistics and others, and Bio-IT.  For more information, please visit http://8vc.com.

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