Solstice Biologics Secures $18 Million Series A; Licenses RNAi Delivery Technology from UC San Diego
San Diego, CA, January 4, 2013 — Solstice Biologics LLC, a company focused on solving the problem of targeting and delivery of nucleic acid therapeutics, today announced the completion of an $18 million Series A financing led by venBio and joined by Aeris Capital AG. In addition, Solstice has acquired an exclusive license to University of California, San Diego intellectual property covering technology that enables RNA molecules to cross membranes of multiple cell types, a perplexing problem that has been a bottleneck in delivering on the therapeutic potential of RNA interference (RNAi) and microRNA.
Less than 10% of the human genome is accessible to current drug discovery technologies. RNAi offers the promise of accessing the remaining 90% or more of the human genome. However, drug developers have struggled to get RNA molecules across cell membranes. Billions of dollars have been spent trying to derive a general solution to this problem – one that will work in all cell types and tissues – to no avail.
Professor Steven Dowdy, Ph.D., and his colleagues at UC San Diego School of Medicine, may have solved this vexing problem by inventing a small, cell-permeable RNAi pro-drug that can enter many different cell types, called RiboNucleic Neutrals (RNNs).
"Past attempts to solve the RNAi problem have involved large molecules that proved incapable of working in different cell types," said Corey Goodman, Ph.D., Executive Chairman of Solstice Biologics and a Managing Director of venBio. "Solstice is developing proprietary technology that enables short double-stranded RNAi and microRNA molecules to cross cell membranes."
Solstice was founded by Dr. Dowdy, professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego, and Curt Bradshaw, Ph.D. They join Dr. Goodman and Rob Adelman, M.D. from venBio, and Frank Muehlenbeck, Ph.D. from Aeris, on the company's Board of Directors. Dr. Bradshaw is co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) of Solstice Biologics and heads its research laboratories in San Diego, CA. He has more than 20 years of chemistry and drug discovery experience in pharma and biotech, including roles as CSO of Traversa Therapeutics, and Vice President Chemistry of CovX Pharmaceuticals that was acquired in 2007 by Pfizer, among other positions.
"The Solstice technology is easy to describe conceptually as a cell-permeable pro-drug, but the actual solution is a significant achievement by Steve and his team at UCSD which required solving a matrix of variables," said Dr. Bradshaw. "This technology accomplishes what most experts thought impossible."
The syndicate has provided the financial capital and strategic planning to help the founders turn their RNAi delivery technology into human therapeutics for a wide range of diseases," said George Rehm, J.D., Managing Partner of Aeris Capital. "The successful accomplishment of this goal of delivering RNAi to a broad range of human cells and tissues will open up a broad market opportunity."
About Solstice Biologics
Solstice Biologics is a private company focused on solving the problem of targeting and delivery of nucleic acid therapeutics. The company is developing small, cell-permeable RNAi pro-drugs that can enter many different cell types and deliver on the promise of RNAi therapeutics. Solstice is backed by venBio and Aeris Capital AG.