Gene therapies are becoming more prominent in treating many rare and genetic diseases. This therapy works by introducing genetic material into cells to compensate for abnormal genes or make a beneficial protein. Since existing approaches rely on viral vectors to deliver genes into the cell, they require “getting it right the first time because the therapy and the dosage can only be administered once”, explained Joel de Beer, founder of Anjarium Biosciences. His approach seeks to address the drawbacks of current gene therapies.
Anjarium Biosciences is developing novel DNA-based vectors and proprietary Hybridosome delivery technology, methodically combined for targeted tissue delivery. This approach facilitates the creation of a new generation of genetic medicines that have reduced immunogenicity, increased drug payload capacity, enhanced targeted delivery, and enable individualised multiple dosing for better patient outcomes in a range of severe genetic diseases. Today, the Schlieren-based startup focuses on two proof of concept projects while gathering preclinical data for further indications.
A springboard for development
Since 2017, the startup has benefited from the support of Innosuisse, the Swiss Innovation Agency. It received funding for a joint project with the Zurich University of Applied Sciences. “This project was fundamental for developing our solution and key processes”, said de Beer.
As part of the Innosuisse coaching program, the startup, thanks to its lead coach Armin Mäder, gained valuable entrepreneurial know-how and access to key players in the startup ecosystem. “The program allowed us to keep track of our milestones and provided us with a sounding board to consult whenever we sought assistance. We also received insights and a different perspective from third-parties”, explained de Beer. Finishing the program, Anjarium was awarded the Innosuisse certificate, reinforcing its maturity.
Indeed, the startup has demonstrated a steady growth trajectory in the last months: it has obtained multiple patents, grown its team to seven people with plans to expand to 30 in the coming months and established its laboratory from scratch. The startup recently attracted some leading investors such as Abingworth, Gimv, Omega Funds, Pfizer Ventures, and Surveyor Capital to support its ambition to become the leading genetics therapy company. Anjarium raised CHF 55.5 million, one of the largest series A rounds in the biotech sector.
The next phase will see the company advance its technology platform while accelerating its clinical developments. “Our projects are currently on track”, he concluded.
(Ritah Ayebare Nyakato)