WATERTOWN, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--EnPlusOne Biosciences, Inc., a biotechnology company harnessing the power of enzymes to synthesize RNA oligonucleotides, today formally launched with $12 million in seed financing. The round was led by Northpond Ventures with participation from Breakout Ventures, Coatue, and angel investors. The financing will support continued development and scaling of the company’s proprietary ezRNA™ synthesis platform in line with the company’s mission to enable next-generation solutions for emerging RNA therapeutics.
EnPlusOne is pioneering an enzymatic-based RNA synthesis platform to address systemic issues inherent to existing chemical synthesis methods. The rapid expansion of RNA therapeutics has uncovered key issues including scaled production and access to innovative therapeutic modifications. The ezRNA™ platform can incorporate a diverse array of nucleotide modifications and promises to be the manufacturing process to sustainably deliver therapeutic RNA at commercial scale.
The company was founded by George Church, PhD, Daniel Wiegand, Jonathan Rittichier, PhD, and Dan Ahlstedt as a technology spinout from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Dr. Church is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Health Sciences and Technology at Harvard and MIT and leads the Wyss Institute’s Synthetic Biology platform.
The EnPlusOne executive team is led by Mr. Wiegand as Chief Executive Officer with Dr. Rittichier and Mr. Ahlstedt serving as Chief Scientific Officer and Chief Operating Officer, respectively. EnPlusOne’s board includes Mr. Wiegand, Mr. Ahlstedt, Daniel Janse, PhD, Director at Northpond Ventures, and Andrew Lee, PhD, Vice President at Northpond Ventures, and is led by its Chairman, Steven Kasok. Mr. Kasok is an industry veteran and former co-founder and CFO of Brammer Bio, a viral vector CMO for gene and cell therapies, that was acquired by Thermo Fisher Scientific in 2019. In connection with the financing, Julia Moore, co-founder and Managing Partner at Breakout Ventures, will join as a board observer.
EnPlusOne’s technology was advanced by the technical founders, Mr. Wiegand and Dr. Rittichier, over the last six years within the Wyss Institute and over the past two years with funding from the Northpond Labs Alliance through the Laboratory for Bioengineering Research and Innovation at the Wyss Institute. “The Northpond Labs Alliance has helped us accelerate the translation of our fundamental research into a platform primed for commercialization. The Northpond Labs team has been a true partner and instrumental in helping us develop our strategy, roadmap, and vision during our company-building journey," said Mr. Wiegand.
Commenting on the technology, Dr. Church said, “In 1973, I started research on tRNA – complex RNA molecules with many nucleotide modifications. These structures were difficult to access synthetically back then, and we are still waiting for innovation. I remember bringing Daniel and Jon together to tackle this challenge and how enthusiastic they were working through it. Our lab culture is driven by seeing every bit of basic science for how it might be stretched and recombined to solve a societal problem. EnPlusOne exemplifies this approach, coupling nature’s enzymes and novel chemistries to change the way we access RNA therapeutics.”
“We know that the chemical synthesis approaches cannot keep pace with RNA innovation,” said Mr. Wiegand. “Our platform represents a new way of addressing this need utilizing next-generation technology for the scaled production of high-quality RNA oligonucleotides. We’ve made significant progress developing this technology, and we have a clear vision for effectively delivering RNA to the world.”
“The industry has demonstrated that RNA is a versatile substrate for a broad range of therapeutics including siRNAs, ASOs, CRISPR and vaccines to name a few,” added Dr. Janse. “Over the past two years, we have been privileged to partner closely with the EnPlusOne team in the lab towards founding the company. Their platform has the potential to significantly increase the success of future therapies, and it is an exciting and exploding field. We believe EnPlusOne has the ability to lay the foundation for how RNA drugs will be engineered and manufactured in the future.”
The company intends to use the funding to build out its team and platform capabilities. EnPlusOne plans to synthesize and supply oligonucleotides greater than 100-nt and position the platform to enable large-scale GMP manufacturing in the near future. Additionally, EnPlusOne expects to provide novel modifications of nucleotides to address RNA therapeutics, in collaboration with industry partners.
About EnPlusOne Biosciences: Enabling RNA
EnPlusOne is enabling the future of RNA and RNA solutions. Its ezRNA™ synthesis platform is a revolutionary innovation that can incorporate a diverse array of nucleotide modifications. The promise of sustainably delivering therapeutic RNA at commercial scale has arrived. In addition to direct RNA synthesis, EnPlusOne's ezRNA™ platform supports a vast array of RNA solution applications. For more information, please visit www.enplusonebio.com.
Northpond Ventures is a multi-billion dollar science-driven venture capital firm based in Cambridge, MA; San Francisco, CA; and Bethesda, MD. Northpond has been named one of the three most active lead biotech investors in 2021 by Crunchbase, and the most active lead investor in life science solutions and molecular diagnostics by Silicon Valley Bank. It is particularly engaged in the research ecosystem, having founded a bioengineering laboratory at Harvard, and sponsored a prize for women entrepreneurs at MIT. It has led over 50 financings over the past several years, with a high percentage having an academic origin. Learn more at npv.vc.