A biotech firm with local ties is looking to expand the therapies in its pipeline with $120 million in fresh funding.
ReCode Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical startup using a non-viral lipid nanoparticle delivery platform for gene therapies, announced closing a $120 million extension to a Series B funding round it raised last year to help bring its lead programs to human trials and “follow the science” to target new diseases.
“The successful administration of billions of doses of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, and continued progress with novel RNA and gene correction therapeutics, have catapulted us into a new era of possibility for genetic medicines,” said Dr. Shehnaaz Suliman, ReCode CEO and board member, in a statement. “We’re harnessing that potential with our novel selective organ targeting…genetic therapeutics directly to the organs and cells most impacted by disease, offering improved efficacy and potency.”
Extension brings Series B funding total to $200 million
With the closing of the extension, which was co-led by pharmaceutical giant Bayer AG’s impact investment arm Leaps by Bayer and Matrix Capital Management affiliate AyurMaya, the company has raised $200 million in its Series B. It initially announced closing on the round last October, co-led by the venture capital arm of Pfizer and biotech investor EcoR1 Capital.
The initial close of the round saw ReCode merge with mRNA-focused TranscipTx, which is based in Menlo Park, California, where ReCode has a pilot manufacturing plant.
‘Game-changing precision medicine’
ReCode’s platform is based on selective organ-targeting lipid nanoparticle technology, which allows it to selectively target organs and cells with genetic therapies through a variety of methods. ReCode’s methods include IV and intramuscular administration—something the company says allows it to be more precise than other methods on the market.
Using that technology, the company targets disease-relevant cells with its pipeline of mRNA-mediated replacement and gene correction therapies.
With the new funding, ReCode plans to file an FDA request to bring its two lead programs—one targeting primary ciliary dyskinesia, the other focusing on cystic fibrosis—to human trials, with the former expected to begin in the fourth quarter of this year and the other expected in 2023. While expected to begin earlier, those trials were previously delayed by lack of primates to test on and availability of contract research organizations, trade publication Fierce Biotech reports. ReCode says both therapies have demonstrated the ability to target disease-relevant cells without exposing other tissue.
In addition, the company is planning to use the new funding to expand its therapy pipeline to target diseases into areas with central nervous system, liver, and oncology indications, along with growing the types of genetic medicine cargoes it can deliver, which currently include mRNA, siRNA, and DNA. The company told Fierce Biotech that ReCode is “following the science” for where its next therapies take it, while noting it will likely explore respiratory and liver disease.
“This potentially game-changing precision medicine technology creates vast possibilities for genetic medicines which have been limited by current technologies,” Suliman said. “With the infusion of new capital, we’re confident that our team will successfully drive ReCode’s mission to develop new precision genetic medicines enabled by superior delivery.”
Building on UT Southwestern research
The funding will also help ReCode grow its team from about 70 to 100 over the next year. Currently, ReCode has a small Dallas team—all focused on research—located in BioLabs’ life sciences facility at Pegasus Park, a spokesperson told Dallas Innovates. The funding will also see Alan Colowick, Matrix’s managing director, and Rakhshita Dhar, senior director of venture investments health at Leaps by Bayer, join ReCode’s board.
ReCode traces its roots to a research project by founders Daniel Siegwart and Philip Thomas at UT Southwestern, which it spun out of in 2015. It landed its seed round of funding in 2019, following that up with an $80 million Series A funding round in 2020 led by Dallas’ Colt Ventures. In total, the company has raised at least $282 million.
Earlier this year, Suliman, a former president and COO at biopharmaceutical Alector, the took over the CEO spot at ReCode, replacing David Lockhart, who held the role following ReCode’s merger with TranscipTX and moved to the role of chief scientific officer.
“The ability to directly target specific organs and cells beyond the liver remains a key challenge for genetic medicines,” said Juergen Eckhardt, head of Leaps by Bayer, in a statement. “We believe ReCode is a unique company in our industry whose innovations have the potential to fundamentally shift an entire area of genetic medicine.”