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Drug Delivery

GenEdit raises $24M, signs Genentech deal

The firm’s polymer nanoparticles will be used to target autoimmune disorders.

by Rowan Walrath
January 24, 2024


A young man wearing a blue shirt and a black watch.
Credit: GenEdit
Kunwoo Lee

It’s a common refrain in the still-new field of gene-editing: The top 3 challenges are delivery, delivery, and delivery. Delivery startup GenEdit has now raised more funds, and signed a partnership with Genentech, to answer that challenge.

GenEdit raised $26 million in series A financing in 2021 with financial backing from Eli Lilly and Company. The startup later signed a partnership with Duchenne muscular dystrophy drug developer Sarepta Therapeutics. The second partnership, this time with Roche’s Genentech, and $24 million in new venture capital are two new votes of confidence for the firm.

GenEdit presents its nanoparticles as an alternative to adeno-associated viruses and lipid nanoparticles, both of which are capable of carrying genetic material but can come with off-target side effects and have difficulty targeting specific types of tissue.

The firm has built a large library of hundreds of thousands of hydrophilic polymer nanoparticles. GenEdit screens the library, which it calls the NanoGalaxy, to identify which structures are best suited for delivery of a specific payload to a specific tissue. CEO Kunwoo Lee says the nanoparticles can deliver small interfering RNA, messenger RNA, and other gene editors; CRISPR inventor Jennifer Doudna was a collaborator with the University of California, Berkeley, team that created the technology.

The Genentech partnership marks the first time GenEdit’s technology will be used to target autoimmune disorders, although Lee declined to name any specific diseases.

“Currently, the way we are treating autoimmune disorders is like bringing a hammer and breaking down entire pathways,” Lee says. “Now, we have a bit better understanding about what causes the autoimmune disorders. It is a moment for us to address autoimmune disorders in a better way, using the nucleic acid.”

Lee says GenEdit has been in conversations with Genentech, its neighbor in South San Francisco, for “quite some time.” The collaboration they eventually agreed on involves a $15 million upfront payment to GenEdit, with the potential for $629 million in additional milestone payments. The larger company will be responsible for all preclinical, clinical, and regulatory development, as well as commercialization—assuming viable drugs result from the collaboration.

While the 40-person startup is pursuing external collaborations it is also progressing a pipeline of its own medicines. GenEdit’s internal pipeline focuses largely on disorders of the nervous system. The new $24 million—packaged as a Series A 1—gives the company enough runway to file paperwork to begin its first human trials in this area, Lee says.

“Neurology is absolutely a growing market. Now, it is expected to be as big a market as oncology,” Lee says, noting the increasing prevalence of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. “The big question people have is, ‘What’s going to be the way that we can develop new therapies in this field?’ Obviously, genetic medicine is a really fantastic opportunity.”



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