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Life Science Investors Add New $650M Fund

Investment graphic

(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay)

17 Dec. 2021. A venture capital investor specializing in health care and life science companies raised $650 million for new financing rounds. Omega Funds in Boston says its seventh investment fund is its largest to date, attracting more participation from new and current investors than the original $500 million target.

Omega Funds says it invests in life science companies that aim to meet urgent medical needs. Businesses supported by Omega Funds include therapeutics, diagnostics, and medical devices, as well as research tools and instrumentation. Since it began in 2004, says the company, its 150 supported businesses generated 46 products now on the market addressing conditions such as leukemia, melanoma, and Huntington’s disease.

Omega Funds says it seeks out companies in the U.S. and Europe creating breakthrough rather than incremental solutions, and invests at all stages of business development, from early-stage start-ups to later-stage growth financing. Its previous venture fund, the sixth offered by Omega, raised $438 million for investments. And with the new fund, says the company, the total raised for investments approaches $2 billion.

“We look forward to contributing our conviction-building processes and network connectivity, in addition to capital,” says Omega Funds founder and managing director Otello Stampacchia in a company statement released through Cision, “to the many entrepreneurs and founders intent on transforming existing standards of care for severe diseases. We believe this is the most exciting time to invest in health care, due to the accelerating pace of development in biotechnology and the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to many novel discoveries about the human immune system.”

Vaccines, monoclonal antibodies, and stem cells

Science & Enterprise reported on a number of recent venture rounds where Omega Funds took part. In Apr. 2021, Omega Funds participated in the $100 million raised in the second funding round for Icosavax Inc. in Seattle, a company spun off from labs at University of Washington. Icosavax creates vaccines to protect against infectious diseases from viruses, particularly diseases affecting respiratory functions. The company uses computational techniques to design synthetic antigen proteins from virus-like particles that to the immune system look like invading viruses, but do not cause infections on their own.

In Nov. 2020, Science & Enterprise reported on the third venture round for Adagio Therapeutics Inc. in Waltham, Massachusetts, which raised $80 million at the time, with participation by Omega Funds. 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. The company says its technology can also protect against coronaviruses from bats currently monitored by virologists, but not yet infecting humans.

And in June 2020, Omega Funds was part of the first venture round for Sana Biotechnology Inc. in Seattle, spun-off from Harvard Medical School, and raising $700 million at the time. Sana Bio develops regenerative medicine therapies with stem cells designed and produced in advance, then dispensed like prescription drugs today. With most current technologies, however, stem cells must be taken from and newly transformed cells returned to the same patient, which makes the therapy process labor-intensive and expensive. The company is genetically altering stem cells with Crispr-edited genes and other methods to reduce the production of immune-system proteins that can cause adverse reactions.

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