Eye On the Cure Research News

Jan 7, 2022

Foundation’s RD Fund Invests in SalioGen Therapeutics, Developer of Novel Gene Coding Technology for Treating Inherited Retinal Diseases

The company is currently developing programs for Stargardt disease (ABCA4), Usher syndrome, RP25 (EYS), and RP1.

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The RD Fund (Retinal Degeneration Fund), the venture philanthropy arm of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, has invested in SalioGen Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing therapies for a broad range of conditions, including inherited retinal diseases, using its novel Gene CodingTM  technology.

SalioGen has received a total of $115 million in a Series B round of financing to enable the company to continue building out the Gene Coding platform, expand the company’s team, and establish manufacturing and automation capabilities critical for accelerating the advancement of its preclinical programs. In March 2021, the company received $20 million in Series A funding.

SalioGen’s Gene Coding platform works by adding new genomic code to turn on, off, or modify function of new or existing genes. Gene Coding is accomplished by SalioGen’s Exact DNA Integration TechnologyTM (EDITTM), which is based on mammal-derived genome engineering enzymes called SaliogaseTM. Saliogase seamlessly inserts new DNA of any size into precise, defined genomic locations.

SalioGen’s technology is designed to be more efficient and reliable than other gene-editing and gene-modifying approaches (e.g., CRISPR/Cas9) because it doesn’t involve the double-stranded break and subsequent repair (a process called homologous recombination) of the targeted gene.

Furthermore, the company is developing targeted lipid-based nanoparticle formulations to deliver the therapy and its genetic cargo, DNA of virtually any size. In contrast, current viral delivery systems for gene-augmentation therapies are limited in the size of the genetic cargo they can deliver. Many retinal disease genes are too big for the viral containers used in these systems.

The company is currently developing research- and preclinical-stage programs and aims to launch future clinical trials for treatments for Stargardt disease (ABCA4), Usher syndrome, RP25 (EYS), and RP1.

“We are excited by SalioGen’s promising and innovative technology for addressing the genetic causes of inherited retinal disease. Their approach overcomes many of the limitations with current gene augmentation therapies and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing,” says Benjamin Yerxa, PhD, chief executive officer, Foundation Fighting Blindness. “Our investment will help the company advance their emerging therapies into clinical trials.  That is an important goal for the Foundation and the RD Fund.”

The Foundation established the RD Fund in 2018 to make mission-related investments in companies with projects nearing clinical trials. Visit RDFund.org for more information.