The Five Hottest Private Biotech Companies in Boston

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Boston is the center of a bustling biotech hub in the United States, with huge venture capital investments flowing into emerging companies. Here are five private Boston-area biotech companies that have attracted the biggest rounds of investment in the past two years.

The Boston area in the US state of Massachusetts (MA) is home to one of the world’s leading centers of biotechnology.

Comprised primarily of the cities of Boston and Cambridge, the hub’s prominence in the biotech industry stems in part from its proximity to high-performing institutions, including Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Massachusetts General Hospital, where the big biotech companies come from. innovations are born.

Boston and Cambridge are also home to leading US venture capital (VC) firms investing in promising life science research. Examples include Third Rock Ventures, which raised a massive $1.1 billion fund in June 2022, and RA Capital Management, which bagged an $880 million fund last year.

Additionally, the Boston area has seen the birth of many influential public biotech companies. One of the top performers in recent years has been Moderna, a giant messenger RNA (mRNA) specialist that was incubated by venture capital firm Flagship Pioneering. Moderna would go on to produce one of the first COVID-19 vaccines in 2020 and currently has a market capitalization of over $60 billion.

The hub shows few signs of slowing down and there are a host of private biotech companies that are getting investors excited. Here are five of Boston’s innovative private biotechs that have raised huge rounds of venture capital in the past two years.

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ElevateBio

The ElevateBio holding company was founded in 2017 in Waltham, a city near Boston. The gene and cell therapy developer has consistently won outsized funding rounds, topped by a jaw-dropping $525 million Series C round in March 2021.

ElevateBio specializes in technology that supports the development of advanced therapies, such as gene editing, induced pluripotent stem cells, and protein, viral and cell engineering. Portfolio companies under his wing include AlloVir, which develops T-cell therapies for viral infections, gene-editing biotech Life Edit and cell therapy player HighPass.

At the heart of ElevateBio’s business model is BaseCamp, a program that provides research and manufacturing services to other companies. ElevateBio has ongoing partnerships to develop and manufacture new treatments with partners such as institutions at Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital.

Round

Laronde was unveiled by Flagship Pioneering in Cambridge, MA in early 2021. In August 2021, Laronde pocketed $440 million in a Series B round to fund the development of drugs based on technology called Endless RNA.

Current messenger RNA (mRNA)-based drugs like Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine work by instructing cells to produce therapeutic proteins. However, these drugs can only exert their effects for a short time before being eliminated from the body. RNA Endless is designed to overcome this limitation by turning RNA molecules into closed loops that last longer in the body. These modular molecules can also be easily modified to carry different instructions for making multiple proteins.

Laronde leverages its endless RNA technology to fight diseases in a wide range of therapeutic areas, including metabolic diseases, genetic diseases, blood disorders and cancer.

Therapeutic Neumora

Many neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases are notoriously difficult to treat, such as schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Over the decades, many clinical trials have struggled to provide a single approach that works for many patients. Neumora Therapeutics is exploring another strategy: precision medicine.

Previously, cancer was classified and treated based on symptoms and organs affected, but the effectiveness of these treatments was lacking, Paul Berns, co-founder, president and CEO of Neumora, said in a public statement. Precision medicine has made many cancer treatments more targeted and effective. “Similarly, we now have the tools and technologies to redefine brain disease to transform the development of targeted and effective precision drugs,” he added.

Neumora Therapeutics closed a massive Series A funding round worth $400 million when it launched in October 2021, and secured another $100 million investment from Amgen. The company is using the money to develop Data Biopsy Signatures: maps of different brain disease drivers from which it can identify specific types of patients who would benefit from targeted therapy and specially designed clinical trials. These maps are derived from a range of data sources including genomics, imaging, brain electrical activity and clinical records.

Neumora’s lead treatment candidate is in Phase 2 testing for the treatment of depression. The company runs other programs for the treatment of anxiety and neurodegenerative diseases.

genomics personalized medicine lifebit
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Tessera Therapeutic

Tessera Therapeutics made headlines earlier this year with an impressive $300 million Series C funding. The company was founded by Flagship Pioneering in Somerville, near Boston. Proceeds from his latest round are funding the development of Tessera’s Gene Writing technology, which is capable of performing a range of modifications and insertions into the genome to deliver therapeutic genes.

While the therapeutic potential of CRISPR technology is widely hyped, Tessera’s gene-writing technology is based on a different concept called mobile genetic elements (MGEs): a large group of genomic sequences comprising plasmids and transposons able to move in a genome or even jump to other organisms. The technology can use RNA templates to make small changes to the genetic code or DNA templates to insert entire sequences. According to the company, this has the potential to cure almost any genetic disease, even those inaccessible to current gene-editing technology.

One of the diseases this technology could tackle is cystic fibrosis, a disease caused by a series of genetic mutations in a gene called CFTR. Currently, some treatments are able to attenuate the disease in patients with certain types of mutations, but some patients with other mutations have no options. Last year, Tessera partnered with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to accelerate the development of ways to rewrite errors CFTR gene and potentially cure the disease in all patients.

Xtalpi

Xtalpi was created by a team of quantum physicists from MIT in 2014 with the aim of accelerating the drug discovery process. It uses a range of numerical and computational tools such as quantum physics, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing to predict the chemical properties of small molecule drugs at an early stage of development.

With offices in Cambridge and Shenzhen, China, Xtalpi has a range of ongoing partnerships with companies around the world such as Singleron, PhoreMost and Signet. Just a year after pocketing $300 million in a Series C round at the end of 2020, Xtalpi then closed a Series D megaround worth $400 million at the end of 2021.

Some of the services that Xtalpi offers to its clients include the discovery of chemical structures that can reach pathological targets; find the optimal profile of a drug candidate to improve its success rate; and validating its computational predictions with wet lab experiments.

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