Syncona launches new gene therapy player Purespring, spun out of the University of Bristol, with a roughly $60M Series A
Longtime UK life sciences investor Syncona has a new gene therapy outfit, one that the firm says is one of the first ever to focus on kidney disorders.
Syncona is launching Purespring Therapeutics with a £45 million Series A, or just shy of $60 million, in the hopes it can deliver on a new class of AAV gene therapies for chronic kidney diseases. Purespring is being spun out from the University of Bristol in the UK, based on the work of Moin Saleem, a professor for pediatric renal medicine.
“Gene therapy has come of age in certain areas, but a major challenge in complex solid organs is to precisely target the genetic material to the correct cell type,” Saleem said in a statement. “Using accumulated expertise in the Bristol Renal research group we have solved this crucial hurdle, putting us in a position to deliver curative gene therapy to patients with chronic and intractable kidney diseases.”
The company is aiming to develop therapies that directly target the glomerulus in the kidney, which is a cluster of capillaries around the end of a kidney tubule where waste products are filtered from the bloodstream. Based on where the research currently stands, the programs could leap from the lab into the clinic in the next three to four years, Bristol said.
Purespring will also have access to a new in vivo screening platform called FunSel, developed by researchers at King’s College London. By utilizing this technology, Purespring can screen for cell-specific protective factors delivered via gene therapy that could have applications across several kidney diseases beyond disorders caused by only one gene variation.
This is the sixth gene therapy company Syncona has founded since 2012, and the firm will be taking an 84% stake in the biotech. Syncona’s chief investment officer, Chris Hollowood, will serve as chairman and partner Dominic Schmidt will be joining the board of directors.
Each of Syncona’s companies focus on a different subset of genetic disorders and their portfolio includes the company Nightstar, which was sold to Biogen for $877 million in 2019. Nightstar, whose research centered on inherited retinal diseases, saw its buyout come amidst a wave of gene therapy-related acquisitions — around the same time, Roche purchased Luxturna producer Spark Therapeutics for $4.3 billion and J$J shelled out $440 million for the rights to MeiraGTx’s ophthalmological gene therapies.
The other players under the Syncona umbrella include Freeline (chronic systemic disease), Gyroscope (retinal inflammation), Orbit Biomedical (a sub-retinal surgical delivery platform, now merged with Gyroscope) and SwanBio (CNS gene therapy).