Dec 16, 2020

Atsena Therapeutics Raises $55 Million Series A Financing to Advance LCA1 Gene Therapy Clinical Program, Two Preclinical Assets, and Novel Capsid Development for Ocular Diseases

The Foundation in the News

Round was led by Sofinnova Investments with participation from Abingworth, Lightstone Ventures and all existing investors.

Company expands board of directors and plans to build out team.

DURHAM, NC and BOSTON, MA – December 16, 2020 – Atsena Therapeutics, a clinical-stage gene therapy company focused on bringing the life-changing power of genetic medicine to reverse or prevent blindness, today announced it has closed an oversubscribed $55 million Series A financing led by Sofinnova Investments with participation from additional new investors Abingworth and Lightstone Ventures. Founding investors Hatteras Venture Partners and the Foundation Fighting Blindness’ RD Fund, along with existing investors Osage University Partners, University of Florida, and Manning Family Foundation, also participated in the round. Sarah Bhagat, PhD, Partner at Sofinnova, Jackie Grant, PhD, Principal at Abingworth, and Jason Lettmann, General Partner at Lightstone, will join Atsena’s board of directors.

We are grateful for the support of our new and existing investors and are encouraged by their enthusiasm for the potential of our technology to overcome the unique hurdles of inherited retinal diseases to prevent or reverse blindness.

Patrick Ritschel, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Atsena

Proceeds will be used to advance Atsena’s ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial evaluating a gene therapy for patients with GUCY2D-associated Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA1), one of the most common causes of blindness in children, as well as complete manufacturing development for Phase 3. In addition, the funds will enable Atsena to expand its team to support the research and development of novel gene therapies, including the progression of two existing preclinical programs in inherited retinal diseases toward the clinic and advancement of the company’s innovative adeno-associated virus (AAV) technology platform.

“We are grateful for the support of our new and existing investors and are encouraged by their enthusiasm for the potential of our technology to overcome the unique hurdles of inherited retinal diseases to prevent or reverse blindness,” said Patrick Ritschel, MBA, Chief Executive Officer of Atsena. “The Series A financing provides financial runway to reach the key inflection point of reading out efficacy data from our LCA1 clinical trial. While we continue expeditiously advancing this trial and our preclinical programs, we are excited to accelerate our growth as a leading ophthalmic gene therapy company.”

The Phase I/II LCA1 clinical trial is currently enrolling patients in the second dosing cohort. Atsena exclusively licensed the rights to the gene therapy from Sanofi, which originally licensed it from University of Florida. LCA is the most common cause of blindness in children. LCA1 is caused by mutations in the GUCY2D gene and results in early and severe vision impairment or blindness. GUCY2D-LCA1 is one of the most common forms of LCA, affecting roughly 20 percent of patients who live with this inherited retinal disease.

“We believe Atsena’s foundation in ocular gene therapy and potentially game-changing novel AAV vectors position the company to become a partner of choice,” said Dr. Bhagat. “Sofinnova is delighted to support Atsena and we look forward to helping the team further its mission to develop life-changing gene therapies for patients with inherited retinal diseases.”

 About Atsena Therapeutics
Atsena Therapeutics is a clinical-stage gene therapy company developing novel treatments for inherited forms of blindness. The company’s ongoing Phase I/II clinical trial is evaluating a potential therapy for one of the most common causes of blindness in children. Its additional pipeline of leading preclinical assets is powered by an adeno-associated virus (AAV) technology platform tailored to overcome significant hurdles presented by inherited retinal disease, and its unique approach is guided by the specific needs of each patient condition to optimize treatment. Founded by ocular gene therapy pioneers Dr. Shannon Boye and Sanford Boye, Atsena has a licensing, research and manufacturing collaboration with the University of Florida and has offices in Boston, MA and North Carolina’s Research Triangle, environments rich in gene therapy expertise. For more information, please visit

About Sofinnova Investments
Since our founding in 1974, Sofinnova has been active in life science investing. We are a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical investment firm with approximately $2.3B in assets under management and committed capital. We invest in both private and public equity of therapeutics-focused companies. Our goal is to actively partner with entrepreneurs in both the U.S. and Europe, across all stages of company formation. From drug development and navigating the regulatory process to company building and IPO, we strive to be collaborative, meaningful board members, and excellent partners at every level. We seek to build world class companies that aspire to dramatically improve the current state of medical care today and ultimately, the lives of patients. Sofinnova has expertise investing in gene therapy companies, including investments in Spark, which developed the first approved gene therapy, Akouos, and Audentes, and Xylocor. For more information, please visit  

About Abingworth
Abingworth is a leading transatlantic life sciences investment firm. Abingworth helps transform cutting-edge science into novel medicines by providing capital and expertise to top caliber management teams building world-class companies. Since 1973, Abingworth has invested in approximately 168 life science companies, leading to more than 44 M&A/exits and close to 70 IPOs. Our therapeutic focused investments fall into 3 categories: seed and early-stage, development stage, and clinical co-development. Abingworth supports its portfolio companies with a team of experienced professionals at offices in London, Menlo Park (California) and Boston. For more information, visit

About Lightstone Ventures
Lightstone Ventures is a leading venture capital firm investing in therapeutic-oriented companies across the life science spectrum, from breakthrough medical devices to novel drugs and biopharmaceuticals. Founded in 2012, Lightstone has been part of many successful new ventures from inception through commercialization and plays a critical role guiding and building successful healthcare companies. With a proven strategy and global footprint, the Lightstone team has been involved in several of the largest venture-backed life science exits over the last decade including: ALX Oncology, Acceleron, Ardian, Calithera, Claret Medical, Disarm, MicroVention, Nimbus, Plexxikon, Portola, Promedior, Proteolix, Ra Pharma, Tizona, Twelve and Zeltiq. For more information, visit

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