ReCode Therapeutics attracts $120 million in new investment for its drug delivery tech
Dallas-based ReCode Therapeutics has raised an additional $120 million from investors to expand its genetic platform that can deliver drugs to selective organs in the human body.
The new money builds on an earlier $80 million funding round for the 7-year-old company using technology developed by co-founder Daniel J. Siegwart of UT Southwestern’s Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center.
New investors include Leaps by Bayer, the investment unit of Bayer AG, Matrix Capital Management affiliate AyurMaya and Amgen Ventures. Alan Colowick, managing director of Matrix, and Rakhshita Dhar, senior director of venture investments health at Leaps by Bayer, will join ReCode’s board of directors in connection with the financing.
ReCode CEO Shahnaaz Suliman said there was so much interest in the company’s earlier capital raise that it extended the investment round.
“We are on the cusp of a bright future in genetic medicine,” Suliman said. “The key to unlocking that future is delivery.”
The funding will help ReCode continue research and development of its selective organ-targeting lipid nanoparticle delivery platform.
Siegwart “really had the scientific vision to break away from conventional thinking and had the insight to re-engineer the traditional [lipid nanoparticle] platform,” Suliman said.
The technology, described by Nature as one of “Seven Technologies to Watch in 2022,” acts as a drug delivery system, like a suitcase that carries genetic cargo to targeted organs in the body to treat disease.
Lipid delivery systems have been used in other treatments like the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. But, unlike the COVID vaccines, organ-targeting treatments are engineered with an extra lipid that helps the body to sort where the genetic cargo should go, directing the nanoparticles to specific organs such as the lungs or spleen and bypassing the liver.
“With all the traditional [lipid nanoparticles] in the world, if you put them in the blood they go primarily to the liver,” said ReCode chief scientific officer David J. Lockhart. With ReCode’s technology, “we can deliver them to the liver if we choose, but we can also de-target the liver for delivery elsewhere in the body. That’s really the most unique characteristics.”
Previous genetic medicines have struggled to target organs other than the liver because they were delivered through the blood, but Siegwart’s technology is capable of targeting specific organs and cell types to maximize the efficacy of genetic medicines and limit potential side effects of long-term drug exposure on liver function.
Siegwart “said let’s take what’s good about the four component [lipid nanoparticles] and add a fifth lipid that can potentially confer all sorts of important properties like increased potency, increased ability to package a large variety of genetic medicine payloads, and then most uniquely, have the ability to tune the bio-distribution properties to not just deliver to the liver,” Lockhart said.
ReCode plans to branch out to oncology and central nervous system treatments, as well as alternative forms of drug administration like a nebulizer, or inhaler, for lung diseases, or injection into spinal fluid to directly target the brain.
“The use of proceeds from this financing will be used to expand and diversify the platform to different tissues and organs, but also with different types of genetic cargoes,” Suliman said. “The way to think about this is beyond vaccines and beyond the liver, and then with diverse cargoes and diverse modes of administration.”
Suliman leads a team of 70 at ReCode, with plans to expand the workforce to 100 in the next six to 12 months.
She was named one of the 2017 Fiercest Women in Life Science by Fierce Pharma and one of the Most Influential Women in Business in 2021 by the National Diversity Council’s Power 50. She has more than 25 years of experience growing biopharmaceutical companies, including delivering a $1 billion profit sharing partnership with Janssen while at Theravance Biopharma as senior vice president.
Lockhart previously served as CEO and president of ReCode predecessor TranscriptTx, and served as the chief scientific officer of Amicus Therapeutics from 2006 to 2013. As a biotech executive, he has worked in drug discovery, drug development and technology development for more than 25 years.
ReCode is an inaugural tenant of Dallas’ Pegasus Park. The biopharmaceutical development park just saw its first company graduate when cancer therapy startup Aakha Biologics announced a new, permanent headquarters in Frisco.