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Locana raises funds to advance RNA-targeting gene therapy

Launched in 2016 based on a technology developed in Prof. Eugene Yeo’s lab at the University of California, Locana is focused on developing RNA-targeting gene therapy for human genetic diseases.

San Diego, California-based RNA-targeting gene therapy company Locana has raised $55 million in Series A financing. Locana will use the funds to expand its pipeline of RNA-targeting gene therapy programs, further extend capabilities of its platform technology and expand its leadership team.

The financing round led by ARCH Venture Partners had participation from new investors including UCB Ventures and GV in addition to the existing investors, Temasek and Lightstone Ventures.

Dr David Nelles, Locana’s CTO and Dr Ranjan Batra, R&D chief also worked on the platform in Yeo’s lab. Dr Jeffrey M. Ostrove, former CEO of AbVitro and Ceregene, will be Locana’s now CEO and director.

Locana has advanced a 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. Preclinical studies are underway on multiple programs and the initial focus will be on genetic repeat expansion diseases.

The company believes that targeting RNA is safer and more effective in treating genetic diseases which are caused by dysfunctional RNA. Targeting RNA could eliminate off-target effects in DNA which are detrimental to cells.

Dr Ostrove commented: “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. 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.”

Source: Locana Raises $55 Million Series A Financing to Advance Portfolio of RNA-targeting Gene Therapies; Press Release

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