Shape Therapeutics Raises $112M to Develop RNA-based Gene Therapies

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RNA gene therapy and Rett/Rett Syndrome News/laboratory studies

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Shape Therapeutics has raised $112 million in financing to support work into developing its portfolio of RNA technologies to potentially treat genetic diseases, including Rett syndrome.

“We have witnessed the power of [messenger RNA] in the vaccine space and are now entering a new era where we can apply next-generation RNA technologies to potentially prevent or treat complex diseases across a wide range of therapeutic areas, such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease … and Rett syndrome,” Francois Vigneault, PhD, co-founder and CEO of Shape, said in a press release.

Messenger RNA, an intermediate molecule between DNA and proteins, has been used in the production of COVID-19 vaccines.

Shape is developing RNA technologies, based on the molecular machinery found in cells, to correct genetic mutations. The company believes this gene therapy approach could safely and effectively treat various diseases caused by gene mutations, and those with known genetic risk factors.

The technology allows for RNA targeting, RNA editing, and RNA replacement to treat such disorders. Shape also reported that recent work in non-human primates identified next-generation adeno associated viruses (AAVs), which serve as gene therapy delivery vehicles. This preclinical work showed these new AAVs can transport genetic material specifically to the nervous system or muscle in primates.

A human cell line for the production of AAVs has also been developed, which the company said has outperformed standard methods.

With this funding, Shape plans to continue building its RNA technology portfolio, and accelerate the development of new therapy approaches.

The Series B financing round was co-led by Decheng Capital and Breton Capital, in collaboration with Willett Advisors, and continued participation from New Enterprise Associates, and Mission BioCapital.

“We are pleased with the tremendous support from our current and new investors and appreciate the confidence they have placed in our entire team as we continue to harness the potential of RNA therapeutics to redefine the standard of care for genetic diseases,” Vigneault said.

Min Cui, PhD, founder and managing director at Decheng Capital, will be joining Shape’s board of directors, and Josef von Rickenbach, founder and former CEO of Parexel, will serve as a board observer on behalf of Breton Capital.

“We are thrilled to support Shape in realizing the full potential of RNA technologies to truly transform the gene therapy industry,” Cui said.