In May 2020, Professor Peter Glazer was named a Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale award recipient for his project entitled “A Novel Antibody for Nucleic Acid Delivery and Gene Editing.” Last month, Gennao closed $40 million in financing to support the advancement of this proprietary technology. Now called the “gene monoclonal antibody” (GMAB) platform, it is being used for the development of targeted nucleic acid therapeutic product candidates for the treatment of cancer and rare monogenic skeletal muscle diseases. The series A financing was co-led by OrbiMed and Logos Capital, with participation by Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company).
The GMAB technology is exclusively licensed from Yale University and benefited from the Blavatnik award, whose goal is to finance groundbreaking Investigator-initiated research to support development and eventual commercialization of Yale’s most promising research.
“Gennao Bio’s impressive round of funding exemplifies the mission of the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale. Having been able to support the early research and connect the researchers with entrepreneurs and investors to launch their company has been most gratifying. We are excited to follow their growth and impact within the New Haven innovation ecosystem,” Bill Wiesler, PhD, Director of New Ventures and the Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale.
This funding assisted in de-risking the technology, allowing it to advance to its next inflection point. The technology uses a cell-penetrating antibody to noncovalently bind to and deliver therapeutic levels of a wide variety of nucleic acid payloads to select cells. The nonviral delivery platform can deliver multiple types of nucleic acids, allows for repeat dosing, and is produced using well established manufacturing processes, according to the firm.
“The Blavatnik Fund for Innovation continues to play a critical role in translational research, as demonstrated by Dr. Glazer’s advancement of GMAB from an innovative discovery to a promising clinical candidate with industry appeal," said Stephen Squinto, Ph.D., chief executive officer and chair of the board of Gennao Bio. “Our team at Gennao is extremely excited to be working with Yale to further develop this non-viral, cell penetrating technology. We believe it has the potential to transform gene therapy given its unique ability to non-covalently bind to and systemically deliver multiple types of nucleic acids directly into the nucleus and cytoplasm of cells.”
Gennao Bio was co-founded in 2020 by Peter Glazer, M.D., Ph.D., Elias Quijano, M. Phil., Stephen Squinto, Ph.D. and Bruce Turner, M.D., Ph.D.
At present, 33 projects have received Blavatnik funding. Since 2016, two of those projects resulted in FDA-Approved INDs, 12 funded ventures have raised $108 million, and two projects are partnered directly with major corporations.
The Blavatnik Fund for Innovation at Yale, made possible by a generous grant from the Blavatnik Family Foundation, supports Yale faculty in the commercialization of applied research and technology in the life sciences. A significant obstacle to the development of early-stage university discoveries is the lack of funding for the proof-of-concept and validation studies needed to demonstrate commercial potential. To overcome this barrier, the Fund provides funding and business development support to help validate nascent technologies and identify potential industry partners to advance these technologies to the marketplace.