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Targeted Genetic Nanoparticle Company Gains $25M in Seed Funds

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(Gerd Altmann, Pixabay.

7 June 2023. A developer of nanoscale lipid particles for delivering genomic therapies to specific cells and tissue, spun-off from academic labs, is raising $25 million in seed funds. Hopewell Therapeutics in Woburn, Mass. is based on research in the lab of biomedical and chemical engineering professor Qiaobing Xu at Tufts University, the company’s scientific founder and chief technology officer.

Hopewell Therapeutics seeks to provide an alternative to engineered or benign viruses for delivering gene therapies, as well as genome-editing treatments, and those with messenger RNA or mRNA and other nucleic acids. The two year-old enterprise is developing advances by Xu and colleagues at Tufts on harnessing nanoscale lipid or natural oil particles as therapy delivery mechanisms.

Xu’s lab studies the chemistry of lipids to alter their electrical charge and other properties to make deliveries with the particles safer, more accurate, and reliable. The lab notes that it maintains a library of lipid-like nanoparticles that are biodegradable, non-toxic, and designed to reach specific tissue and organs. Hopewell says it has an exclusive license from Tufts University to the Xu lab technology for a broad range of clinical and commercial applications.

Reach cells and tissue throughout the body

The company calls its process tissue-targeted lipid nanoparticles or ttLNPs. Xu says in a Hopewell Therapeutics statement released through Cision, “I began designing novel LNPs for genetic drug delivery during my post-doctoral work in the laboratory of Professor Robert Langer at MIT and carried it forward as I built my own research group at Tufts. We continue to innovate and expand our ttLNP platform, as we develop LNPs with the potential to bring next generation genomic medicines to patients with high unmet medical needs.”

Hopewell Therapeutics says its ttLNPs are designed to reach cells and tissue throughout the body, but outside the liver. In Feb. 2022, for example, Xu and colleagues published a paper in PNAS demonstrating delivery of mRNA with lipid-like nanoparticles to lab mice induced with the rare lung disease lymphangioleiomyomatosis or LAM that affects mainly women of child-bearing age. The researchers designed lipid nanoparticles that successfully delivered mRNA to correct for mutations in the tuberous sclerosis complex 2 or Tsc2 gene responsible for LAM. The authors note that most lipid nanoparticles today deliver genetic therapies to the liver and spleen.

The company’s first product, says CEO Louis Brenner, will deliver therapies for lung diseases, while also “exploring the potential of our ttLNP platform for patients with unmet needs in oncology, infectious diseases, rare genetic diseases, and neurological disorders.” The company says in addition to mRNA, its ttLNPs can also deliver small interfering RNA for gene-silencing therapies, DNA, gene-editing, and gene-writing treatments.

Hopewell Therapeutics is raising $25 million in seed funds from a group of venture investors that Hopewell says finances science-based start-ups: Mass Ave Capital, 5Y Capital, HIKE Capital, BOPU Capital, IMO Capital and WS Investments. The company says the funds are administered in a series of tranches, with most of the funds already delivered. According to Crunchbase, Hopewell already raised $8 million in Oct. 2021 and $7.1 million in Feb. 2022.

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