hC Bioscience Announces $24 Million Series A Financing to Develop Innovative Pipeline of Protein-Editing Therapies

February 23, 2022
Cambridge, MA

hC Bioscience, Inc., a drug discovery and development company focused on first-in-class tRNA-based therapeutics targeting protein dysfunction, has closed a Series A financing of $24 million led by a strong syndicate of investors, including ARCH Venture Partners, Takeda Ventures and 8VC.

hC Bio is advancing two complementary platforms. One is directed at restoring protein function when “nonsense mutations,” or premature termination codons (PTCs), cause protein dysfunction, a problem responsible for 10 – 15% of all human disease. This platform, called PTCX (“Patch”), employs tRNA that suppresses such errors in the genetic code to allow the proper full-length protein to be produced.

hC Bio is simultaneously developing a second tRNA-based platform called SWTX (“Switch”) to target diseases caused by missense mutations. This technology is designed to correct for such mutations in proteins that cause disease.

Leslie J. Williams, president and chief executive officer, and Professor Christopher Ahern, from the University of Iowa, founded the company to translate and augment the foundational work performed in the Ahern lab. Chris Ahern and John Lueck (currently Assistant Professor at University of Rochester) identified engineered transfer RNAs for human PTC variants driving disease.

“We are creating medicines to restore protein function to its intended state without editing genes,” said Williams. “A single tRNA therapy has the potential to treat many diseases regardless of the gene or location of the mutation.”

Concurrent with the close of hC Bioscience’s Series A financing, the company has also appointed David Altreuter, Ph.D., as chief technology officer.

Dr. Altreuter brings extensive experience in the design and development of novel drug products where innovative delivery has a central role. An expert in translating discoveries through clinical development, he holds over 40 patents/patent applications and has served in leadership positions at Lyndra Therapeutics, Acusphere, Alnylam, Selecta Biosciences, and Quiet Therapeutics.

hC Bio has also assembled an exemplary Scientific Advisory Board, including Nobel laureate Craig Mello, Ph.D., HHMI investigator and Professor at UMass Medical Center, who will serve as Chairman; Page Bouchard, DVM, Former CSO and Head of Research and Early Development of Novartis Gene Therapies; John DiPersio, MD, Ph.D., Chief of Oncology, Washington University; John Bell, Ph.D., Scientific Director of the National Centre of Excellence for the development of Biotherapeutics for Cancer Therapy, University of Ottawa; Oladapo Yeku, MD, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine, Oncology, Harvard University; and Jeff Bockman, Ph.D., Head of Oncology Practice, Cello Health; along with John Lueck, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Center for RNA Biology, University of Rochester and Christopher Ahern, Ph.D., Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, University of Iowa.

Dr. Mello notes, “hC Bio’s tRNA-based technology brings to bear an entirely new class of RNA therapeutics to address the ever-growing list of genetically-defined and yet unmet medical needs. To meet these needs, hC Bio will partner with pharma while selecting a few of the most urgent targets to tackle internally.”

hC Bio’s Board of Directors includes Steven Gillis, ARCH Ventures, Sacha Mann, Takeda Ventures, David Moskowitz, 8VC and Leslie Williams, CEO. Dr. Gillis, Chairman of the Board, says, “hC Bio is building the company on strong, foundational IP. We look forward to the team translating its technology into class-leading therapies for patients.”