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2022-09-08| Funding

RNA-Focused Orbital Therapeutics Makes its Industry Debut with Beam Partnership

by Reed Slater
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With support from some of the biotech industry’s leading experts, Orbital Therapeutics announced its launch as the newest RNA-based medicine company. Along with a solid partnership with Beam Therapeutics to start things off, ARCH Venture Partners backs the fresh company. It will include leadership from individuals with experience at Alnylam, Moderna, Affinivax, and more.

Building on the Revolutionary Therapeutic Class of RNA Technology

Orbital’s main goal is to broaden the field of RNA therapeutics, which continues to transform the biotech landscape as researchers industry-wide develop innovative methods to harness the powerful technology. The company will focus on emerging technologies in the field and delivery mechanisms but will lack an RNAi platform, which is Alnylam’s basis.

More details will emerge as time passes, but Orbital said it plans to build a portfolio across various diseases, including vaccine development, immunomodulation, protein replacement, and regenerative medicine. Orbital designed Its new platform to extend the half-life of its RNA therapeutics and expand its delivery to a greater number of cell types and tissues. 

Alnylam Pharmaceuticals’ former Chief Executive Officer and Orbital Co-founder, John Maraganore, Ph.D., said, “The breakthroughs in RNA therapeutics over the last decade have been remarkable achievements by the biopharmaceutical industry, with several approved products for a range of diseases and many more in development…Orbital Therapeutics has a unique opportunity to integrate and apply a spectrum of innovative RNA technologies to advance a portfolio that could dramatically expand the potential of today’s RNA therapeutic approaches.”

Related Article: NC – Life Sciences Manufacturing Coalition Wins $25 million in Grant Funding

Strong Foundations to Support Orbital’s Launch

The opening collaboration with gene editing-focused Beam Therapeutics is a sign of good things to come for Orbital, which hopes to leverage the partnership to advance its RNA-based dreams. In exchange for Orbital’s vaccine and certain therapeutics protein information, Beam is lending its proprietary gene editing and cell transplantation tools to the new company. 

In addition to the partnership, Beam’s Chief Scientific Officer, Giuseppe Ciaramella, Ph.D., will serve as Orbital’s interim Chief Executive Officer. Before Beam, Ciaramella served as Moderna’s Chief Scientific Officer, gaining valuable experience in RNA technology to bring to the table at Orbital. 

Another prominent leader in the company will include Gilles Besin, Ph.D., who will serve as Orbital’s Chief Scientific Officer. Besin previously worked at Affinivax Inc. as the Vice President. With an impressive educational background and over 15 years in vaccine and immunology development, Besin is another advantageous asset for the company. 

Though the company has not released funding figures yet, some of the industry’s heaviest hitters, ARCH Venture Partners, a16z Bio + Health, and Newpath Partners, are leading the initial funding. Kristina Burrow, Managing Director, and Carol Suh, Partner at ARCH, are also lending their expertise as founding members of Orbital. 

Orbital’s launch is exciting news in the RNA therapeutics space within the biotech industry. With an impressive leadership lineup, reputable funding firms, and a well-grounded partnership with Beam to start things off, the company seems to be in a good position moving into the future.

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