Pharma

RNAi drug delivery company secures $1.6M for endosomal escape technology

PhaseRx is developing a RNAi drug delivery system that uses synthetic polymers to help RNAi-based therapeutics escape endosomes and reach cell cytoplasm.

Company: PhaseRx

Industry: Pharmaceutical (drug delivery)

City, State: Seattle, Washington

Solution/Product: PhaseRx’s mechanism uses synthetic polymers to deliver RNAi drugs, which companies are developing to silence disease-causing genes, across cell membrane and into the cytoplasm by mediating their escape from endosomes, where they often get trapped. Using Nobel Prize winning technology licensed from the University of Washington, the company is aiming to partner with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies looking to move their molecules forward into clinical development.

Money Raised:  $1.6 million in convertible notes and warrants. PhaseRx raised a $19 million equity round in 2008.

How will it be used: CEO Robert Overell was not available for comment, and there are no listings under the company’s name in the clinicaltrial.gov database.

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Investors: Previous investors include 5AM Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners and Versant Ventures.

Management team: Founded by Overell, a former partner at Frazier Healthcare Ventures and R&D leader at Immunex, along with researchers Paul H. Johnson (former CSO of Nastech Pharmaceutical Co. Inc. and EpiGenX Pharmaceuticals), Oliver Press of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Patrick Stayton and Allan Hoffman of the University of Washington.

Market size: GIA estimates that RNAi-based products could generate $4 billion in sales by 2017, driven by an increasing number of therapeutics. Development of RNAi-based drugs has in the past been stalled because of challenges with delivering RNA molecules to target cells and coaxing cells to take them up.

Competitors: Silence Therapeutics, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Merck, Calando Pharmaceuticals