Forge Biologics bags $120M round as it looks to scale AAV manufacturing for Krabbe disease treatment
In less than a year, Forge Biologics has grown its staff size from just four employees to more than 75, a sure sign of rapid growth from the Chris Garabedian-launched start up. Here’s another sign: the $120 million Series B financing round the company just announced.
The gene therapy CDMO secured funding from RA Capital Management, and participation from Perceptive Advisors, Surveyor Capital, Octagon Capital and Marshall Wace.
The funds will help bring online a 175,000-square-foot facility to manufacture AAV gene therapies in Columbus, OH, that will add eight times as much space to speed up the manufacturing process.
“We’re here to basically provide more access to these life-saving life-changing gene therapies,” CEO Tim Miller said in an interview with Endpoints News. “When you want to play on the global stage for a disease, this is how you build it.”
The success of AAV-delivered drugs has exhausted manufacturing capacities around the world. In a statement, Matthew Hammond, principal at RA Capital, said that this financing could help address the capacity shortage.
“We are confident that Forge’s experienced team will become the trusted partner of innovative therapeutics companies, working collaboratively with clients to successfully deliver AAV manufacturing solutions,” he said.
Within its own pipeline, the company is researching AAV in combination with umbilical cord bone marrow (UCBT) transplants as a treatment for Krabbe disease. The genetic disorder destroys protective coating of nerve cells in the brain and throughout the nervous system, and often results in the patient’s death by the age of 2.
The treatment uses a viral gene transfer after a bone marrow transplant, which solves for a number of peripheral deficits that develop after the standard of care.
Forge took home $40 million in Series A funding back in July 2020, the eighth biotech invested in by the PXV Fund. What sets the company apart, Miller said, is that while some companies are in the business of raising boatloads of cash to do all sorts of gene and cell therapy manufacturing, Forge is just focused on AAV manufacturing. That’s what many gene therapy companies who have had successful trials — like the retinal dystrophy treatment Luxturna and spinal muscular atrophy treatment Zolgensma — have used.
“One of the differentiators is that we have multiple offerings, things that especially startup clients need to have to be successful,” Miller said. “We offer regulatory support for earlier stage programs and we also offer research-grade production which is something a lot of other companies don’t do.”
As a part of the financing, Hammond and Fred Callori of the already-invested Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund will join the board of directors. That board currently consists of Miller, Garabedian and Drive Capital partner Molly Bonakdarpour.