NEW HAVEN, Conn., Nov. 23, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Helix Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company pursuing therapies for genetic disorders such as sickle cell anemia, B-Thalassemia and lysosomal storage disorders, announced today that Canaan Partners and Connecticut Innovations (CI) have made an investment of $2.5 million in the company. The funds will add to earlier seed-stage funds that the company has used to further its proprietary targeted gene modification (TGM) technology platform, which allows correction of certain genetic mutations in blood stem cells of patients with rare genetic diseases.
Joseph J. Catino, Ph.D., president and CEO of Helix Therapeutics Inc, said, "We welcome the addition of Canaan Partners as an investor in Helix and a team with synergistic drug development expertise. We have made great progress in moving this potentially game-changing technology toward clinical studies in patients, and will use these additional funds to further support those efforts."
The company's technology, which was developed at the Yale University School of Medicine and licensed exclusively on a worldwide basis to Helix, uses patented oligonucleotides that bind to the human genome resulting in permanent, targeted gene modification. Helix's proprietary TGM technology platform is empowered by the company's triplex-forming oligonucleotide technology, and corrects a genetic defect in a patient's stem cells by stimulating the cell's own DNA repair machinery to permanently correct them. The corrected cells are then returned to the patient who is then able to make the proteins capable of stopping the course of their genetic disease. Genetic diseases such as sickle cell anemia, B-Thalassemia, severe immune disorders and lysosomal storage disorders are among those that could be treated with therapies from Helix.
Timothy Shannon, M.D., a venture partner at Canaan, will join the Helix Board. Dr. Shannon said, "The Helix technology fits well into the growing interest in personalized medicine and rare diseases within the NIH, FDA and pharmaceutical industry. Canaan sees the potential in a technology like Helix's that takes advantage of the convergence of years of research in gene correction approaches, stem cell therapy and rare diseases. Helix has the opportunity to be at the forefront of an important leap in medical care."
"Wise investments like this help to grow our tech sector and fuel the job creation engine that is so vital to the health of Connecticut's economy," Connecticut Governor M. Jodi Rell stated.
CI Managing Director of Investments Russell Tweeddale will continue to represent CI on Helix's board of directors. He said, "We are a part of an important collaboration with the Helix team, Canaan Partners and the Yale founders to develop an approach that has the potential to fundamentally change the way many genetic diseases are treated. Therapies for diseases targeted by Helix represent a tremendous market opportunity, on the order of $500-800 million."
The Helix board also includes Peter Glazer, M.D., Ph.D., a founder of Helix, inventor of the company's technology platform, and professor and chair of the Department of Therapeutic Radiology at the Yale University School of Medicine; and Kevin Rakin, a Helix founder and Chairman and CEO of Advanced BioHealing. Additional founders are Gerald F. Vovis, Ph.D., and Ranjit Bindra, M.D., Ph.D.
About Helix Therapeutics Inc
Helix Therapeutics Inc (Helix) is a privately held startup biotechnology company based in NewHaven, Connecticut. The company's proprietary technology was developed at the Yale University School of Medicine and is licensed exclusively to Helix on a worldwide basis. The mission of Helix is to establish cures for select genetic diseases using triplex-forming oligonucleotide (TFO) technology. Specific targeting of genetic information in human hematopoietic stem cells leads to stable, heritable correction of responsible mutations. For more information please visit www.helixtherapeutics.com.
About Canaan Partners
Canaan Partners invests in visionary entrepreneurs and provides them the networks, insights and operational guidance required to build high-performance technology and healthcare companies. Founded in 1987, the firm has raised eight funds and completed more than 83 acquisitions and 52 IPOs. With $3 billion under management and a worldwide footprint, the firm is committed to catalyzing the growth of innovative biopharmaceutical, medical device, diagnostics and healthcare infrastructure companies. Among its successes are Amicus Therapeutics, a pioneer of next-generation oral therapies for the management of human genetic diseases; BiPar Sciences, a biopharmaceutical company pioneering novel tumor-selective therapies to address urgent unmet needs of cancer patients; Calixa Therapeutics, developer of hospital-based antibiotics to treat infections resulting from resistant strains of bacteria; and Cerexa Inc., one of the largest biotech acquisitions of 2007. Other Canaan investments include Advanced BioHealing, Calibra Medical, Chimerix, Inc., Liquidia Technologies, ReVision Optics, Theraclone Sciences, Transcend Medical, and VaxInnate. Canaan maintains a presence in California, Connecticut, India and Israel. For more information visit www.canaan.com.
About Connecticut Innovations Inc.
Connecticut Innovations (CI) is a quasi-public organization dedicated to driving a vibrant, entrepreneurial, technology-based economy in Connecticut. CI stimulates high-tech growth by investing in: early-stage Connecticut technology companies; university/industry research collaborations; technology transfer; and, clean energy initiatives through the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund. CI also fosters collaboration among government, business, nonprofit and academic organizations to advance technology growth and promotes public policies consistent with CI's mission. For more information on CI, please visit www.ctinnovations.com.
SOURCE Helix Therapeutics Inc