Wave LifeSci banks $66M with a 'pure' take on synthetic chemistry

Gregory Verdine

Wave Life Sciences, co-founded by famed Harvard chemist Gregory Verdine, put together a $66 million B round to fund its work on a new class of drugs that promise to home in on the genetic defects responsible for diseases.

The Boston-headquartered biotech is developing stripped-down nucleic acid therapies through a proprietary approach to synthetic chemistry, crafting novel treatments the company believes can get to the root cause of some rare ailments.

Existing nucleic acid drugs are made up of thousands of isomers, Wave says, and while some have therapeutic value, the rest are dead weight at best and dangerous at worst. So Wave, relying on discoveries by Verdine and Tokyo University of Science's Takeshi Wada, devised a platform it believes can do away with complex mixtures and craft custom-fit nucleic acids made up solely of therapeutically relevant isomers. That allows for precise mRNA targeting, the company said, plus improved stability and safety.

"Wave was founded on the premise that chirally pure nucleic acid therapies could overcome key challenges that have impeded realization of the full potential of this important, emerging area of medicine," Verdine, who serves as chairman, said in a statement. "It is gratifying to witness the evolution of the company as it continues its march toward the clinic led by a solid, experienced management team and driven by a mission to bring new medicines to patients impacted by rare, often devastating genetic disorders."

The plan now is to push forward with preclinical candidates for Huntington's disease and Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and Wave expects to be ready for first-in-human trials by the end of next year.

New investor Foresite Capital led Wave's latest round, joined by a group of first-time backers including Fidelity and New Leaf Venture Partners. RA Capital Management, which co-led Wave's $18 million Series A, returned for the second funding round.

- read the statement (PDF)