-- Lead therapeutic candidate targets Wisper, a cardiac fibroblast-enriched long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), for the treatment of non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy --
-- Robert Williamson joins the company as Executive Chair to the Board of Directors --
Lausanne, Switzerland, 20 May 2021
HAYA Therapeutics Completes CHF 18 Million Seed Financing to Advance Anti-fibrotic Therapies Targeting Long Non-Coding RNAs
-- HAYA Therapeutics, SA, a company developing precision medicines that target tissue and cell-specific long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), announced the successful closing of its CHF 18 million seed round. The financing was led by Broadview Ventures, with participation from Apollo Health Ventures, BERNINA BioInvest, 4See Ventures, Schroder Adveq and Viva BioInnovator.
Founded and led by a team of experts in lncRNA biology and fibrotic disease, HAYA will use the funds from the financing to advance the discovery and development of innovative organ and cell-selective therapeutics that target lncRNAs to treat and potentially reverse fibrosis and other serious medical conditions related to aging.
The company’s proprietary DiscoverHAYA™ drug discovery engine enables HAYA to generate a pipeline of lncRNA targeting anti-fibrotics for many tissues, including lung, kidney, liver and the tumor microenvironment. HAYA’s lead therapeutic candidate is an antisense oligonucleotide targeting the lncRNA Wisper, a cardiac tissue-enriched driver of fibrosis in the heart.
“HAYA was founded to address the major burden of fibrotic diseases and has made tremendous progress over the last several years deciphering the roles of lncRNAs, a new class of regulatory molecules derived from the ‘dark matter’ of the human genome,” said Samir Ounzain, Ph.D., Co-founder and CEO of HAYA Therapeutics. “With the support of our world-class investor syndicate and this seed financing round, we are excited to accelerate our development efforts and look forward to bringing this new solution to patients suffering from fibrosis and other chronic age-related diseases.”
Preclinical research conducted by Dr. Ounzain and colleagues at the Lausanne University Hospital (CHUV) demonstrated the ability of HAYA’s lead program to halt and potentially reverse fibrosis in the heart. HAYA is preparing to initiate clinical trials with its Wisper targeting candidate in non-obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, an orphan indication with limited treatment options. The company secured an exclusive license from CHUV for the Wisper asset.
HAYA also announced that Robert Williamson will join the company as Executive Chair to the Board of Directors. Additionally, Jens Eckstein, Ph.D., Managing Partner at Apollo Health Ventures, and Benjamin Kreitman of Broadview Ventures will join HAYA’s board. Dr. Ounzain and Daniel Blessing, Ph.D., Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of HAYA Therapeutics, are also board members.
“HAYA Therapeutics is developing uniquely tissue- and context-specific genetic medicines for the prevention and reversal of fibrotic diseases,” said Mr. Williamson, who is also President & CEO at BioTheryX, Inc. “We aim to leverage our novel biological insights into the roles of lncRNA to identify and inhibit organ-specific master regulators of myofibroblasts. This groundbreaking approach promises to generate potent, selective, engineered therapeutics that are safer and more effective than medicines currently in development for the treatment of challenging fibrotic diseases.”
“Cardiac fibrosis remains an untreated but critical component of heart failure pathophysiology. We believe HAYA Therapeutics has generated a novel and differentiated approach to prevent and potentially reverse cardiac fibrosis and look forward to supporting the team to bring this technology towards the clinic,” said Mr. Kreitman.
“Given our fund’s focus on mechanisms of aging and age-related diseases we already had non-coding RNA aka ‘The Dark Matter of the Genome’ on our radar. We are delighted to partner with leading scientists in this emerging field and are excited to bring efficacious therapeutics tackling age-related fibrosis to patients,” commented Dr. Eckstein.
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