Bermingham's Korro Bio lands ex-Corvidia executive as CEO

Ram Aiyar, Ph.D. (Korro Bio)

Fresh off a $91.5 million round, RNA-editing biotech Korro Bio has a new CEO. Ram Aiyar, Ph.D., comes on board after engineering the $2.1 billion acquisition of his previous company, Corvidia Therapeutics, by Novo Nordisk.

“The acquisition of Corvidia happened in June of this year and it took a little bit of time. That transition ended for me in September,” said Aiyar, who founded the heart-focused biotech and served as its chief financial officer and chief business officer. Bound by social distancing rules in the COVID-19 pandemic, he found himself looking for his next step virtually.

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“I had been discussing with venture firms in general terms of putting together concepts for a next company,” he said. Along the way, he met Atlas Venture partners Jean-François Formela, M.D., and Nessan Bermingham, Ph.D., and the rest is history.

Aiyar jumped into biopharma at Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, working in immunology. Before Corvidia, he was an entrepreneur-in-residence at BioHealth Innovations and held roles at FlowMetric and Sofinnova Partners.

At Korro’s helm, he’ll focus on building the team—which includes hunting for a chief scientific officer—and shepherd the company’s candidates toward the clinic over the next two years or so.

The company’s work is based on its oligonucleotide-promoted editing of RNA (OPERA) platform, which harnesses the body’s natural base-editing system. Unlike CRISPR-based editing systems, which make a double-stranded cut in the DNA, Korro’s approach makes reversible edits to a single base, or letter, in the RNA. The approach is based on the work of Josh Rosenthal, Ph.D., of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts.

RELATED: Stanford team deploys CRISPR gene editing to fight COVID-19

“We are not looking to shut down genes, but to modify RNAs and move them from a diseased state to a normal state through base targeting versus shutting the gene off,” Bermingham, the company’s co-founder and executive chair, said in a previous interview.

Korro hasn’t revealed specific diseases it’s going after, but includes diseases of the liver, central nervous system and the eye as focus areas.

Incubated at Atlas Venture, the company uncloaked in October 2019 with an undisclosed amount of funding from Atlas and New Enterprise Associates. In September of this year, it topped up its coffers with a $91.5 million series A round from Wu Capital, Qiming Venture Partners USA, Citadel’s Surveyor Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, MP Healthcare Venture Management and Alexandria Venture Investments, as well as Atlas and NEA. That capital will push Korro’s lead program to an IND filing and set up a “broad portfolio” of RNA-editing treatments.