Arbor's autumn: A $1.2B Vertex pact, now a $215M series B for liver, CNS diseases

It appears a $1.2 billion biobucks pact with Vertex wasn't enough for Arbor Biotechnologies. The biotech added to its treasure chest with $215 million in series B funds to bankroll work in liver and central nervous system diseases. 

The financing will help the Cambridge, Massachusetts, biotech get closer to the clinic, though it's keeping mum on exact targets for now. The only condition not kept under wraps is Arbor's lead candidate in primary hyperoxaluria, a rare, inherited condition in which the liver produces too little of a protein that prevents too much output of oxalate, a compound that can cause kidney stones.

The biotech claims it is home to the "most extensive toolbox of wholly owned CRISPR genomic editors" in the drug development world. The financing, disclosed Tuesday, will help bring new treatments to patients "in the near future," said Chairman Paul Meister in a statement.

The oversubscribed round comes just three months after Arbor adjusted its collaboration with Vertex in a $1.2 billion biobucks arrangement. Vertex will develop cell therapies using Arbor's gene editing tech for Type 1 diabetes, sickle cell disease, beta thalassemia and potentially other diseases. 

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Arbor came into view in March 2018 with an initial $15.6 million in funding to support the groundwork established by gene editing leader Feng Zhang, Ph.D., a core member of the Broad Institute known for his work on CRISPR-Cas9 and for co-founding Editas, among other biotechs.

One of Arbor's new lead investors, TCG Crossover, has had a banner year of its own. The investment firm has contributed to multiple financing rounds above $100 million, including ShouTi's $100 million series B, Obsidian's $115 million series B, Artios' $153 million series C, RayzeBio's $108 million series C and others. TCG Managing Partner Chen Yu, M.D., joins Arbor's board in conjunction with the financing.