Avidity Bio Adds $100M to Advance R&D of Muscle Disorder Drugs

Xconomy San Diego — 

Earlier this year, Avidity Biosciences and Eli Lilly began a partnership to develop new drugs based on the biotech’s technology for delivering genetic material to cells. On Wednesday, Lilly was among a group of investors that joined a $100 million financing for the company.

The funding, a Series C round, was led by RTW Investments.

La Jolla, CA-based Avidity is developing drugs called antibody-oligonucleotide conjugates (AOC). These drugs employ the tissue-targeting properties of an antibody, using it to carry a therapeutic payload of modified RNA called an oligonucleotide. The company says this combination can more precisely hit targets in the body, such as skeletal muscle, immune cells, or the heart.

Avidity’s lead drug is a potential treatment for myotonic dystrophy type 1, a rare genetic muscular disorder in which toxic RNA is formed that impairs muscle function. The disease has no FDA-approved treatments. Avidity is also conducting research in Duchenne muscular dystrophy and muscular atrophy. The partnership with Lilly (NYSE: LLY) is focused on developing medicines for immunology and other undisclosed therapeutic areas.

Avidity says it will apply the new capital to multiple programs, including its myotonic dystrophy type 1 drug. 

The financing announced Wednesday added new investors Cormorant Asset Management, CureDuchenne, Logos Capital, Perceptive Advisors LLC, and ST Pharm. Also participating were earlier investors Alethea Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, Boxer Capital of Tavistock Group, Brace Pharma Capital, EcoR1 Capital, Partner Fund Management, and Takeda Ventures.

Lilly contributed $15 million in connection with its research agreement with Avidity.

With the new funding, Roderick Wong, managing partner of RTW Investments, will join Avidity’s board of directors.

Photo by Flickr user San Diego Bill via a Creative Commons license