Versant invests $30M in CGT startup Vector Biopharma

Aug. 16, 2022

San Francisco-based healthcare investment firm Versant Ventures announced the launch of cell & gene therapy biopharma Vector BioPharma. 

Vector BioPharma will develop next-generation therapeutics using a proprietary platform based on research from the University of Zurich. The company says its platform “delivers the right gene to the right place at the right time with unparalleled precision and versatility.” 

“Our platform has significant advantages thanks to the unprecedented size of cargo that can be delivered, our proprietary capsid shielding technology and our ability to precisely target virtually any cell surface epitope,” said CEO Lorenz Mayr. “We are confident that our approach will offer patients therapies with improved safety, efficacy and specificity.”

The platform, called SHREAD — Shielded, Retargeted Adenovirus — harnesses the non-replicative, high-capacity properties of adenoviral vectors combined with exogenous, high-avidity adapter proteins to redirect the delivery of therapeutic DNA to defined biomarkers on the target cell or tissue in a more targeted way, according to Vector. 

Initially engineered by Andreas Plückthun, the capsid is also developed to be protected from the immune system and to carry complex and multiple gene cassettes with a large genome packaging capacity of up to 36 kb, in contrast to traditional gene delivery technologies which can carry up to 4.7 kb. 

Versant launched Vector out of its Ridgeline Discovery Engine based in Basel, Switzerland.