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Merger to Form Programmable Nano-Medicines Company

Molecule model in an open hand

(Colin Behrens, Pixabay.

20 Oct. 2023. A life science venture investor is merging two of its biotechnology portfolio companies to form a single developer of nanoscale medications with programmable properties. Flagship Pioneering in Cambridge, Massachusetts is combining its portfolio companies Laronde and Senda Biosciences, both in Cambridge, Mass., to form a new business, Sail Biomedicines.

Flagship Pioneering says the new company will combine the programmable elements of Laronde’s synthetic RNA therapeutics technology with Senda Bio’s process harnessing nanoscale particles from natural microorganisms to deliver treatments programmed to reach and execute inside cells. Laronde creates synthetic RNA therapeutics that overcome limitations of natural messenger RNA, the nucleic acid carrying instructions from the genetic code to cells to produce proteins. The company adapts RNA from non-coding regions of the genome to form circular RNA strands that it says are more stable and long-lasting than natural RNA.

That circular RNA, called endless RNA by Laronde, is then modified and designed to express amino acids that form into peptides, antibodies, enzymes, or receptor proteins with specific properties. Science & Enterprise reported on Laronde’s emergence from stealth mode in May 2021, and raising $50 million in initial financing.

Organisms co-evolved with human cells

Senda Biosciences also creates programmable therapeutics, but with a technology it says uses characteristics from four types of natural microorganisms in bacteria, archaea — single cell organisms lacking a nucleus but different from bacteria, fungi, and plant cells. Senda Bio says these nanoscale organisms co-evolved with human cells and thus have chemical properties that can be exploited for therapeutics programmed to reach specific cells, then execute designed actions within cells. That programming, says Senda Bio, is done with synthetic messenger RNA, delivering instructions for cells to generate specific proteins.

Flagship Pioneering says Sail Biomedicines plans to combine the stability and long-acting properties of circular RNA from Laronde with the programmable nanoparticle chemistry of Senda Bio to develop new therapies with the ability to reach, deliver, and execute inside cells as programmed. In addition, says Flagship, the new company expects to take advantage of generative artificial intelligence to apply its process to a wide range of therapies.

Executives from Flagship Pioneering will serve as Sail Biomedicines initial leaders. John Mendlein, executive partner at Flagship also serving as CEO of Laronde, is the initial executive chair at Sail Biomedicines. “Endless RNA,” says Mendlein in a Flagship statement, “has the potential to create an entirely new class of programmable medicines across therapeutic areas that we will now be able to deliver directly to cells and tissues via deployment molecules with unique properties to confer specificity and greater tolerability.”

Guillaume Pfefer, CEO and partner at Flagship and also CEO at Senda Bio is the CEO at Sail Biomedicines as well. “Our deployment platform,” says Pfefer, “utilizes natural nanoparticles to shuttle biomolecules into human cells, with unique tropism, potency, and redosability.”

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