A new spin-out company from the UK DRI at King’s College London has raised $80 million (£58.6 million) in its Series A round, following an initial $16.5 million (£12 million) seed financing, to develop innovative gene therapies for people living with neurodegenerative diseases. If successful, treatments could permanently correct faulty genes potentially transforming the lives of individuals affected.
AviadoBio was co-founded by Christopher Shaw, Professor of Neurology and Neurogenetics at the UK DRI at King’s, along with neurobiologist Dr Youn Bok Lee and vector biologist Dr Do Young Lee. The team will use a patented UK DRI gene therapy platform to develop treatments initially for Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS, motor neuron disease, MND). The substantial new investment will allow the company to take their pioneering research through to in-human clinical trials targeting FTD for the first time. The funds will also help advance other pre-clinical work into ALS and ultimately other neurodegenerative diseases.
Frontotemporal dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain and is the second most common form of young-onset dementia (<65 years). FTD is characterised by changes in personality, behaviour and language, rather than short-term memory deficits seen in Alzheimer’s disease. ALS/MND causes progressive muscle paralysis affecting limb movements speech and swallowing, leading to death from respiratory failure within 3-5 years. Crucially, there are no treatments that can slow or halt progression of either disease.