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Early-Stage Life Science Investment Fund Raises $515M

Growing money

(Nattanan Kanchanaprat, Pixabay)

12 May 2021. A new venture investment fund raised $515 million for life science start-ups, and its business incubator partner added five biotechs to its seed round portfolio. In addition, the current Perceptive Xontogeny Venture fund is leading the first venture round for Juno Diagnostics Inc., a company developing non-invasive prenatal genetic tests.

Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Funds are a collaboration between Perceptive Advisors, an investment management company in New York and Xontogeny LLC, a new-business incubator for life science start-ups in Boston. Perceptive Advisors invests mainly in life science companies throughout their life cycles, with investments in biotechnology companies as well as developers of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, diagnostics, and digital health. The company says its staff includes trained technologists, molecular biologists, and physicians as well as financial analysts.

Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Funds invest mainly in early-stage life science companies, primarily as lead investor in their first venture rounds known as series A, or as seed investors in companies incubated at Xontogeny. The new Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund 2 collected $515 million, which the partners say brings the total assets managed by the first and second funds to $725 million, in less than two years. As reported by Science & Enterprise in July 2020, the first Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund invested $40 million in Forge Biologics in Columbus, Ohio, a developer and manufacturer of gene therapies.

The first Perceptive Xontogeny Venture Fund is also leading a $25 million first venture financing round for Juno Diagnostics in San Diego. Juno Diagnostics is developing what it calls the next generation of non-invasive prenatal tests for genetic disorders such as Down syndrome. The company says its technology performs the tests without a blood draw, and a lower cost and faster turnaround that conventional cell-free DNA tests. The round’s proceeds are expected to support Juno Diagnostics’ clinical validation studies, product development, and commercial launch of its non-invasive prenatal test.

Xontogeny portfolio additions

Xontogeny is adding five life science start-ups to its business accelerator program. As participants in Xontogeny’s incubator, the companies receive seed capital and strategic support to guide their growth through preclinical stages, and help them qualify for further financing by Perceptive Advisors and others. The new participants are:

Nephraegis Therapeutics Inc. in Lake Forest, Illinois. Nephraegis Therapeutics is developing a compound code-named NPH-022 to prevent acute kidney injury, a condition with 8 million cases per year in the U.S. leading to chronic kidney disease and dialysis for some 80,000 individuals.

NephroDI Therapeutics in Philadelphia. NephroDI Therapeutics develops treatments for kidney disorders, beginning with nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, a genetic disorder that prevents proper kidney functioning in children, requiring them to drink large amounts of water to prevent dehydration. The company is based on research at Emory University.

Peroxitech LLC in Philadelphia. Peroxitech is developing a treatment for acute lung injuries, including those resulting from Covid-19 infections. The company’s technology, based on research at University of Pennsylvania, is producing a peptide that eliminates harmful reactive oxygen molecules building up in the lung that lead to respiratory failure.

Shifa Biomedical Corp. in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Shifa Biomedical is developer of small-molecule drugs to treat dyslipidemia, or excessive cholesterol, that can lead to clogged arteries, heart attacks, and stroke. The company’s lead product, code-named P-21, blocks PCSK9 proteins that regulate low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels that now often require monoclonal antibodies.

Tellus Therapeutics in Durham, North Carolina. Tellus Therapeutics is a developer of therapies for newborns, starting with compounds derived from breast milk for producing myelin that protects nerve cells in the brain. The company’s lead product, code-named TT-20, repairs white matter injury, a brain condition affecting some newborn infants. Tellus Therapeutics is spun-off from labs at Duke University.

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