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Coronavirus Antibody Maker Raises $80M in New Funds

Bat hanging upside down

(Signe Allerslev, Pixabay)

10 Nov. 2020. A company developing synthetic antibodies to protect against a range of coronavirus infections, including Covid-19, is raising $80 million in new venture funds. Adagio Therapeutics Inc. in Waltham, Massachusetts, has already raised $130 million in its first two venture funding rounds since starting up in June of this year.

Adagio Therapeutics designs monoclonal antibodies, synthetic highly-targeted immune system proteins, to protect against multiple coronaviruses infections in the same family as SARS-CoV-2 responsible for the current Covid-19 pandemic. These include severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS-CoV-1, causing the SARS outbreak in 2003, and Middle East respiratory syndrome, or MERS, outbreak in 2012. The company says its technology can also protect against coronaviruses from bats currently monitored by virologists, but not yet infecting humans.

The company’s technology is described in a paper published in the journal Science in August. The paper’s senior author, Laura Walker, then with the company Adimab LLC in Lebanon, New Hampshire, is a co-founder of Adagio, along with Tillman Gerngross, a biomedical engineering professor at Dartmouth College and serial entrepreneur. The Science paper details the discovery of antibodies that neutralize SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2, as well as two other SARS-like viruses from bats, the suspected source of these viruses. These antibodies bind to proteins on the virus spikes and block attachment to receptors in cells, thus preventing infections.

Adagio Therapeutics is spun-off and adapting technology from Adimab, based on research by Gerngross at Dartmouth. Gerngross is the company’s CEO and Walker is its chief scientist.

Adagio’s lead product, code-named ADG20, is designed both as a vaccine and a treatment for Covid-19 infections. “In less than four months,” says Gerngross in a company statement, “we completed candidate optimization, selected our lead antibody ADG20, established a manufacturing agreement to ensure global supply, and completed the production runs for ADG20 to be used in our upcoming clinical trials.” Gerngross adds, “our team has received positive feedback from the FDA, allowing us to proceed to our first-in-human study in early 2021.”

Adagio Therapeutics is raising $80 million in its second venture funding round, led by GV, formerly Google Ventures. Taking part in the financing are existing investors Polaris Partners, Mithril Capital, Fidelity Management and Research, and OrbiMed, as well as new investors, Population Health Partners and Omega Funds. Google Ventures is also a first-round investor in the company, as reported in Science & Enterprise in July.

“As a preventative agent,” notes GV life science managing partner Krishna Yeshwant, “ADG20 holds the promise of providing the efficacy necessary to deliver greater protection against Covid-19. Given its unique combination of attributes, ADG20 could complement and supplement vaccines by providing rapid, durable antibody protection against current and future coronaviruses.”

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