Gene therapy biotech Affinia prepares for clinic with $110M financing

Affinia Therapeutics, a biotech developing adeno-associated virus vectors and gene therapies, has raked in $110 million through a series B financing to move its programs into the clinic.

EcoR1 Capital and Farallon Capital Management co-led the financing, with Avidity Partners, Lonza, Octagon Capital and others contributing.

Waltham, Massachusetts-based Affinia was founded in 2019 based on science from Luk Vandenberghe, Ph.D., an associate professor at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and Harvard Medical School. He is also the co-inventor of AAV9, a serotype of adeno-associated viruses that has shown promise in providing a more targeted therapy.

The company has ties to AveXis as well, the gene therapy maker that was bought by Novartis in 2018, through former CEO Sean Nolan, who now serves as Affinia’s chairman. Several other executives also previously held positions at AveXis.

Affinia’s initial focus is on central nervous system and muscle diseases that have a significant unmet need, but the company’s broader aim is to treat rare and more common diseases.

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The new cash will help Affinia move its targets into the clinic, and additional funds will be used for general corporate purposes.

“Since founding the company, we have had the interest of leading biotech investors as well as strategic partners who see the potential of our gene therapy discovery platform to engineer novel vectors that overcome the limitations of conventional serotypes,” said Affinia CEO Rick Modi, another AveXis alum.

The company collected $60 million in a series A financing in 2020 and signed on to a partnership with Vertex Pharmaceuticals worth $80 million upfront and up to $1.6 billion in milestones, royalties and other payments.

Affinia will exhibit data on some of its pipeline during the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy annual meeting this month.