SAN DIEGO, May 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Locana, Inc., a leading RNA-targeting gene therapy company, announced today the close of a $55 million Series A financing led by ARCH Venture Partners with participation from Temasek and Lightstone Ventures, all existing investors. New investors include UCB Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures). Proceeds will be used to advance and expand Locana's pipeline of RNA-targeting gene therapy programs, further extend capabilities of the Locana platform technology, and assemble a premier leadership team.
Jeffrey M. Ostrove, Ph.D., former CEO of AbVitro and Ceregene, is named chief executive officer and director. The company's background technology was developed in the laboratory of Professor Eugene (Gene) Yeo, Ph.D. by Dr. Yeo and Locana Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder David Nelles, Ph.D. and was licensed from UC San Diego. Ranjan Batra, Ph.D., co-developer of the Locana platform, is vice president of research and development. A world leader in RNA biology and genomics, Dr. Yeo chairs the Locana scientific advisory board. Directors include Chairman Tom Daniel, M.D., of ARCH Venture Partners; Cayce Denton of Temasek; Jean George of Lightstone Ventures; and Drs. Ostrove and Yeo. Emmanuel Lacroix, Ph.D., is an observer for UCB Ventures.
"The Locana team has rapidly advanced foundational science from Dr. Yeo's lab into an impressive preclinical data set, demonstrating potential of this RNA-targeting platform to be therapeutically impactful in genetic diseases and beyond," said Locana Chairman Dr. Daniel.
Locana has advanced a powerful modular RNA targeting-effector approach to optimize and advance therapeutic candidates that is distinct from DNA-targeted approaches and nucleic acid-based RNA targeting. Locana is advancing multiple programs through preclinical studies with an initial focus on genetic repeat expansion diseases.
"I was drawn to the power of the Locana RNA-targeting gene therapy platform and the opportunities to realize its full potential in dozens of diseases with first- and best-in class therapeutics," said Dr. Ostrove. "I am eager to build the team, cultivate our own pipeline as well as partnering opportunities, and set the company on the course to achieve long-term success with a portfolio of therapeutics to benefit patients."
About ARCH Venture Partners
ARCH Venture Partners founds and invests in disruptive early stage biotechnology companies. ARCH has co-founded or seeded companies that have pioneered gene sequencing, genomics, immunotherapy, gene therapy, cell therapy, vaccines, infectious disease treatments, and early disease detection. Over three decades, ARCH has raised more than $4 billion of committed capital through 10 venture funds, and has invested in the early rounds of more than 25 companies that have reached $1 billion market capitalization. www.archventure.com.
Incorporated in 1974, Temasek is a global investment company headquartered in Singapore. Supported by its global network of 11 offices including New York, San Francisco and Washington D.C., Temasek owns a US$235 billion portfolio as at 31 March 2018, of which 13% is in North America. Our investment strategy allows us to capture opportunities across the sectors in which we invest that help bring about a better, smarter and more connected world. For more information on Temasek, visit www.temasek.com.sg
About Lightstone Ventures
Lightstone Ventures was founded in 2012 by the General Partners of the life science teams at Advanced Technology Ventures (ATV) and Morgenthaler Ventures to invest in early-stage breakthrough medical device and biopharmaceutical companies. The firm has offices in Boston, Menlo Park, Dublin, and Singapore. For more information, visit www.lightstonevc.com.
About UCB Ventures
UCB Ventures is a €150 million strategic corporate venture fund established in 2017 to further strengthen UCB's ability to create value from novel insights and technologies that can transform the lives of patients suffering from severe diseases. UCB Ventures invests in innovative therapeutics and technology platforms that are early stage and higher risk, in areas adjacent to or even beyond UCB's therapeutic focus on neurology/neurodegenerative diseases, immunology and muscular skeletal/bone health. UCB Ventures takes an active role in its portfolio companies, contributing expertise in drug discovery, development and operations. Visit www.UCBVentures.com to learn more.
GV (formerly Google Ventures) seeks to invest in companies in a variety of fields, ranging from software and hardware, to life science, healthcare, artificial intelligence, transportation, cyber security and agriculture. GV has offices in Mountain View, San Francisco, New York City, Cambridge and London. Visit www.gv.com.
About Locana, Inc.
Founded in 2016 and based in San Diego, California, Locana is an RNA-targeting gene therapy company with a platform technology to address a wide spectrum of human genetic diseases. Locana has advanced a powerful modular RNA targeting-effector approach to optimize and advance therapeutic candidates that is distinct from DNA-targeted approaches and nucleic acid-based RNA targeting. Locana intends to build a portfolio of therapies that address the root cause of genetic diseases driven by dysfunctional RNA behavior. For more information, visit www.locanabio.com.