Gene editing leader developing therapeutics for the eradication of HIV moves toward human trials
Philadelphia, September 6, 2017 — Excision BioTherapeutics, a life science company focused on the development and commercialization of advanced gene editing therapeutics for the treatment of life-threatening disease caused by neurotropic viruses, today announced it has completed a $10 million seed round of financing, led by ARTIS Ventures. The investment will enable the company to enter into human clinical trials with its HIV-1 targeted CRISPR platform, giving Excision BioTherapeutics the first effort to fully remove/excise the HIV-1 genome from all human cells and tissues. In addition, Excision BioTherapeutics is extending this approach to other viruses by targeting their genetic elements, and eliminating them permanently from the patient.
“Excision’s mission has always been to advance gene editing therapeutics into safe and efficacious medicines that will eradicate or disrupt viral genes in human patients,” said Thomas Malcolm, Ph.D, founder, president and CEO of Excision BioTherapeutics. “The support of ARTIS, and other investors, is both timely and critical as we enter the next phase, which is clinical trials and continue our quest in discovering a cure.”
HIV is a global epidemic, affecting more than 36 million people, with the disease most commonly affecting patients during their most productive years, with about one third of new infections occurring in people age 15-24. In the United States alone nearly 50,000 new infections occur annually. Although the virus is treatable, resistant strains have arisen against some medications causing concern in the medical community.
“HIV is highly mutable and in an atmosphere where patient adherence to daily medications is a challenge, the virus has an opportunity to alter itself and spread,” continued Dr. Malcolm. “Combined with selective pressures, HIV is a ticking time bomb and it is in our best interest to eliminate the virus.”
“Our goal is to cure AIDS and the time is now,” said Kamel Khalili, Ph.D. and founder of Excision BioTherapeutics and Lewis Katz School of Medicine Department of Neuroscience Director, Center for Neurovirology Director, Comprehensive NeuroAIDS Center, and Laura H. Carnell Professor and Chair. “We have come a long way from a rudimentary proof of concept to now having evidence of a cure for HIV with animal models. However, what we’re working on is not exclusively focused to the HIV/AIDS virus, but multiple viruses. Our platform will allow us to eradicate permanently the genetic elements of Herpes, Zika, Ebola, Hepatitis, West Nile, and many more viruses. There are virtually no areas that are off limits here.”
Excision BioTherapeutics’ technology is based on the most advanced gene editing therapeutics, which are designed to target, and eradicate, some of the most deadly viruses in society. The targeting, eradication, and delivery protocols are designed using its proprietary ViraSuite® technology platform. Its unique computational approach allows for more intensive focus, resulting in getting therapies into a clinical setting in just two to three years – far more quickly than before.
“Excision BioTherapeutics is laser-focused on harnessing the power of CRISPR-based gene editing to deliver a cure for the world’s deadliest viruses, and we have been blown away by the pace of their progress,” said Stuart Peterson, senior partner of ARTIS Ventures and Forbes 2017 Midas List honoree. “In just three years, Thomas and Kamel’s team have positioned the business and science in a manner that has allowed them to meet all the milestones they set out to achieve with regards to an eventual cure for HIV, and other viruses. What they’re working on is life-changing, and we’re incredibly impressed with not only the platform they have developed and the speed in which they’ve progressed, but the immense potential of this platform for many deadly and debilitating viruses. They are tackling some of the world’s hardest problems in bioscience and healthcare and we share their passion. It’s a solid partnership of like-minded values and interest.”
About Excision BioTherapeutics Inc.
Excision BioTherapeutics Inc. is a life science company focused on the development and commercialization of advanced gene editing therapeutics for the treatment and eradication of lifethreatening disease caused by neurotropic viruses (viral infections).
The company was founded in 2015 out of Temple University’s Lewis Katz School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. Company founders include Kamel Khalili, Ph.D., Thomas Malcolm, Ph.D., Rob Simmons, and David Rowe. The team has already produced a considerable intellectual property portfolio covering the use of the CRISPR and other gene editing tools in relation to a targeted pipeline of indications, as well as innovative companion diagnostics. For more information visit www.excisionbio.com.
About ARTIS Ventures
Founded in 2002, San Francisco-based venture capital firm ARTIS Ventures supports and partners with entrepreneurs who are driven to positively impact their world through disruptive technological innovation. ARTIS was the first institutional investor in cancer-curing Stemcentrx, which was acquired for as much as $10.2 billion in 2016, making it the largest venture-backed acquisition in the history of life sciences. Other notable companies the firm has backed include YouTube, Modern Meadow, Nimble Storage, Practice Fusion, Aruba Networks, Quid, Fabric Genomics, IDbyDNA, Versa Networks, Cohesity, and many more. ARTIS supports its portfolio companies throughout their entire life-cycle, from initial venture investment to initial public offering and beyond.